Prior to the 1992 Dream Team, USA basketball sent its best college players and draftees to the Olympics. So how would a collegiate team fare in the 2012 London Games?
This year's crop of college basketball stars is loaded with talent, but let's remember how much the world has improved over the last couple decades.
Team USA's collegiate squad would be the most athletic team in the Olympics, but they would also be the least experienced and least familiar with the international rules and style of play.
In addition, they wouldn't have the kind of team chemistry that many of the European and South American teams have.
To get an idea of exactly how the young Yanks would do, lets put them through the same paces the real 2012 Team USA faced. For the sake of simulation, we'll give them the same exact schedule leading up to the elimination rounds.
Starting PG: Kendall Marshall
Starting SG: Damian Lillard
Starting SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Starting PF: Thomas Robinson
Starting PF/Center: Anthony Davis
Sixth Man: Dion Waiters
Reserve G: Austin Rivers
Reserve G: Bradley Beal
Reserve F: Harrison Barnes
Reserve F: Jared Sullinger
Reserve F: Draymond Green
Reserve C: Tyler Zeller
Injury Reserves: Andre Drummond and Doug McDermott
USA vs. Dominican Republic: In its first game together, Team USA gets off to a shaky start, but eventually runs the Dominicans out of the gym. Thomas Robinson leads the Americans to a 98-71 victory.
USA vs. Brazil: Brazil's front line gives the Americans trouble, and Team USA drops a close one on its home soil, 83-78
USA vs. Great Britain: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist locks down Luol Deng, Damian Lillard scores 24 points and Team USA rolls to a 107-83 win in Manchester.
USA vs. Argentina: A veteran Argentina squad proves to be too much for the USA youngsters, and they give the Americans their first real spanking, 95-77 in Barcelona.
USA vs. Spain: Tyler Zeller plays heavy minutes off the bench as Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson get into foul trouble. Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes present matchup trouble for Spain, which keeps USA in the game.
The Americans steal an upset win against a Spanish team that's not at full strength. Bench players Barnes, Dion Waiters and Jared Sullinger combine for 55 points. USA 97, Spain 94.
Group A Schedule and Results
USA vs. France: Tony Parker excels against Kendall Marshall, but USA brings in Dion Waiters to slow him down. France struggles from the field in the second and third quarters, allowing the Yanks to extend their lead. Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw lead a French comeback that falls short. USA 91, France 81.
USA vs. Tunisia: The athleticism and depth of Team USA is too much for Tunisia to handle, and Makram Ben Romdhane's excellent performance isn't enough. Seven Americans score in double figures in a 107-73 romp.
USA vs. Nigeria: Another easy win for the red, white and blue. They don't win by 80 like the pros did, but they tear up Nigeria 117-75.
USA vs. Lithuania: Sarunas Jasikevicius takes the young American backcourt to school, while Linas Kleiza and Jonas Valanciunas battle Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger in the paint. Lithuania exposes team USA's flawed perimeter defense, nailing 11 three-pointers to hand USA a 99-88 loss.
USA vs. Argentina: USA fares much better this time around than it did in the exhibition. Manu Ginobili still thrives and shows his international superiority, as he's clearly the best player on the court. But his 20 points aren't enough to overcome a flurry of scoring from Austin Rivers, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal. USA 94, Argentina 90.
Team USA takes a 4-1 group play record into the elimination rounds, where they face Australia in the quarterfinals.
Patty Mills absolutely lights up the scoreboard against Team USA, scoring 37 points on 8-12 shooting from three-point range. However, he and Joe Ingles can't do all the work, and the Americans rely on the balanced attack to keep pace with Mills.
Draymond Green gives the Americans a boost off the bench with his rebounding and half-court offensive prowess.
As for the starters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has an all-around phenomenal game and the duo of Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson combines for 30 points and 20 rebounds.
Team USA wins the shootout, 111-100.
In its third showdown with Argentina in three weeks, Team USA fights for a chance to play in the gold medal game.
Argentina's primary playmakers Luis Scola and Manu Ginobili wage a fierce battle against Kentucky stars Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While the Big Blue duo is able to limit Ginobili's scoring, they can't stop him from making all the right passes.
Ginobili connects with Carlos Delfino, who proves to be a lethal x-factor in this game. The NBA veteran outperforms Team USA's wings and scores 23 points.
The Americans throw everything and everyone at the Argentinians, but the 2004 gold medalists control the tempo and complexion of the game. Argentina 90, USA 85.
Russia is strong at all positions, and a clash in the bronze medal game against Team USA pits a slew of soon-to-be NBA stars.
Alexey Shved brings his best stuff to North Greenwich Arena, but the deep cast of American guards is up for the challenge. Damian Lillard has a terrific night and is nearly unguardable for most of the game.
But Team USA struggles with the size of Russia's front line and the all-around brilliance of Andrei Kirilenko. The 6'9" forward can guard pretty much any forward on Team USA, so he locks down Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes in particular.
The superior athleticism of players like Dion Waiters, Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis keeps the Yanks in the game, but Russia's size and mastery of the international game prevails. Russia 88, USA 83.
A collegiate Olympic team would compete at the Olympics, but the world has come so far in the last 20 years. Far enough to keep USA off the medal podium.
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