Can head coach Mike Krzyzewski stave off epic disappointment?
There are heavy favorites, and then there is Team USA.
The odds are ever in its favor and in the worst way too. Anything short of a gold medal wouldn't just let the United States down; it would utterly baffle anyone who watches this game.
Of course, guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are used this kind of pressure. Their respective NBA clubs may not be quite as infused with stardom as Team USA, but they're as close as teams can get when working under a salary cap.
Unparalleled talent is a precursor to unrelenting expectations. When the Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers fall short of a title, it must be time for big changes.
If Team USA doesn't win the gold medal, it's probably proof we're living in a glitchy matrix. These things don't just happen.
Their souped-up roster came with absolutely everything but Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. But it's not as though Tyson Chandler has been a disappointment nor has the United States needed much of an interior game to begin with.
No, there just aren't many excuses these guys can make.
If you kidnapped the starting lineup and replaced them with cardboard cutouts in their resemblance, it would probably still scare most opponents into submission. This club's bench alone is exponentially more talented than any other team in the tournament.
To put things in perspective, try to name five international players who could hypothetically make it on Team USA. Outside of Pau Gasol, his brother Marc, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, would anyone else even have a shot?
If the United States were upset in the elimination rounds, even the team's own fans would have to marvel at the accomplishment.
Outside of Lithuania improbably forcing a narrow five-point game, Team USA's contests haven't been close for longer than a half. Argentina stayed neck-and-neck with the U.S. through the first 20 minutes, but it took just one quarter for that to change dramatically.
While other teams may have the chemistry, determination and pride, they just don't have the depth of talent that sets the United States apart.
Should one of those teams do the impossible, it wouldn't just be an upset of sporting proportions; it would upset the natural order of the universe. It would be the feel-good movie of the summer for everyone but Team USA.
Of course, it's not going to happen.
Remember, the United States' celebrity roster is used to all this. They understand that a silver medal is a sign of historic failure, and they're prepared to take those kind of demands in stride.
Sorry, world. Once again, it's just not your year.