Olympic Basketball: Predicting the Four Quarterfinal Matchups
Finally, Olympic Basketball pool play has concluded and the quarterfinal games are set.
It is "now or never" for all eight teams remaining, as each attempts to dethrone the United States as the Olympic champions, while also vying for silver and bronze medals.
Action begins on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. ET and concludes at around half past 7:00 p.m., giving basketball fans a full slate of outstanding international ball.
Here are the predictions for the four quarterfinal matches on Day 11 of the Olympics.
Russia vs. Lithuania (9:00 A.M. ET)
The Russians have probably been the most impressive team outside of the United States in these Olympics, beating Brazil and Spain to get the No. 1 seed in their group.
Their quarterfinal test will be Lithuania, a team that gave the U.S. a run for its money as it barely fell to the Americans 99-94.
Lithuania has NBA-level big men, including Jonas Valanciunas and Linas Kleiza, with the latter being the key cog and reason why the team is even in the knockout round.
On the other side, Russia has a bunch of solid international players like Victor Khryapa and Sergey Monya who have contributed to the team's success.
However, NBA players Alexey Shved, Timofey Mozgov and Andrei Kirilenko lead the way for the Russians and need to be stopped if the Lithuanians want to beat this side.
I see Russia winning this game, just because this team is rolling at the right time. Don't be surprised if Lithuania hangs with the Group A winners, especially if the three-ball starts falling.
France vs. Spain (11:15 A.M. ET)
Spain has not looked like the medal threat they were supposed to be, especially with Juan Carlos Navarro nursing a foot injury.
During his absence the Spanish lost to group winners Russia in thrilling fashion and Brazil, in a game that did not really have much importance.
In any case, the Spanish will avoid the Americans until the gold-medal match because of their loss to Brazil, leading to the belief that they did not try to actually win the game.
With the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, Spain still possesses one of the better frontlines among all remaining teams.
France relies greatly on the play of Tony Parker, who has rebounded after playing awfully against the United States in the opener.
Kevin Seraphin and Ronny Turiaf are going to need to step up if the French want to win this contest, but I see this task being insurmountable. Spain will win by eight to 10 points.
Brazil vs. Argentina (3:00 P.M. ET)
For me, this is the marquee matchup of the evening, behind France vs. Spain.
Brazil was oh-so-close to being the No. 1 team coming out of Group A, but lost to eventual winners Russia by one point 75-74.
On the other side, Argentina has struggled in Group B, especially because of its thin bench. In this way, the 2004 Olympic champions rely too much on NBA players Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola.
The Brazilians possess one of the deeper frontlines of the remaining teams, with NBA players like Tiago Splitter, Nene and Anderson Varejao anchoring the paint.
The matchup to watch will be Pablo Prigioni and Marcelo Huertas, two little-known international point guards who have the ability to suit up in the NBA. Prigioni will make his Knicks debut this season.
With all of this being said, Brazil will win due to the strength of its frontcourt, which will easily overpower Seraphin and Turiaf.
United States vs. Australia (5:15 P.M. ET)
Team USA suits up in another late-night game and it will win with ease.
While Australia does have NBA player Patty Mills on the roster, a guy who has shown that he can explode when given the chance to, they just do not possess the talent capable of staying with the athleticism of the Americans.
Carmelo Anthony will likely lead the way as he has during these Olympics, putting up at least 20 points in this matchup.
The Americans will shoot out to an early lead and will hopefully be able to rest most of their starters in the fourth quarter, especially if the lead is in the 20s or 30s.
Look for the Americans to face a bigger challenge in the semifinals, when they face the winner of Brazil vs. Argentina game.