The best young basketball players in the world will be on display at the U-19 World Championships, and the United States will look to once again win the prestigious title.
While the under-19 American team has not dominated the international stage like the senior squad, there has been plenty of success at this tournament over the years. Of the 10 times this event took place, the United States has won four of them.
Still, the squad is coming off a disappointing performance in 2011 that featured a quarterfinals loss to Russia. Fortunately, the team will get a chance to avenge that loss in group play.
However, the United States must first get off to a good start against Ivory Coast, which continues to improve at the international level.
This should be an exciting battle to watch, so make sure you do not miss a second of the action.
When: June 27
Time: 2:15 p.m. ET
Where: O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic
United States Roster (via USABasketball.com)
Ivory Coast Roster (via FIBA.com)
|Abdoul Karim Sanogo||F||6'4"|
It is clear which side has the more talent in this matchup. While Ivory Coast has some serious athletes on the roster, the United States has some of the best players in the tournament.
The team will likely look toward Marcus Smart to be a leader from the start. The point guard was one of the best players in the nation as a freshman for Oklahoma State last season and could easily be preparing to be an early pick in the NBA draft if he had declared.
Watch for the ball to be in his hand for most of the game as he looks to create plenty of opportunities for himself and others.
Another experienced player that will help out in the backcourt is Rasheed Sulaimon out of Duke. The guard is an excellent shooter and can also beat players off the dribble, making him difficult to defend.
Among the younger stars on the roster is Aaron Gordon. The athletic player knows how to finish above the rim, and he is certain to provide some highlight-reel plays in this tournament.
Ivory Coast simply will not have the physical ability to stick with the talent the United States can provide, and this should be an easy win for the favorites.
Prediction: United States 85, Ivory Coast 67
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest updates in sports.