The world's best international teams have descended upon Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and 24 national teams separated between four groups will decide the eventual champion.
As expected, Team USA enter the tournament as massive favorites with whopping 1-2 odds, according to Odds Shark. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski and crew will look to win their second straight title at the event, after sweeping it in 2010.
But with a lot of new American faces on the roster and a couple of opponents that could prove tough, it's far from a cakewalk for Team USA to cut down the nets again. Spain's loaded frontcourt stands out from the rest, but underdogs like Argentina and Brazil are also looking to make noise.
Here's a look at the entire group-stage schedule for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV/Live Stream|
|Aug. 30||Croatia vs. Philippines||6:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Ukraine vs. Dominican Republic||6:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Angola vs. South Korea||7:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Egypt vs. Serbia||9:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||New Zealand vs. Turkey||10 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Puerto Rico vs. Argentina||11:30 a.m.||ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Australia vs. Slovenia||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||France vs. Brazil||12 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Greece vs. Senegal||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Mexico vs. Lithuania||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Finland vs. United States||3:30 p.m.||ESPN/WatchESPN|
|Aug. 30||Iran vs. Spain||4 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Dominican Republic vs. New Zealand||6:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Argentina vs. Croatia||7:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||South Korea vs. Australia||7:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Serbia vs. France||9:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Finland vs. Ukraine||10 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Senegal vs. Puerto Rico||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Slovenia vs. Mexico||11:30 a.m.||ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Brazil vs. Iran||12 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Philippines vs. Greece||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Lithuania vs. Angola||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||United States vs. Turkey||3:30 p.m.||ESPN/WatchESPN|
|Aug. 31||Spain vs. Egypt||4 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 1||Croatia vs. Senegal||6:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 1||Iran vs. Serbia||9:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 1||Argentina vs. Philippines||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 1||France vs. Egypt||12 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 1||Puerto Rico vs. Greece||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 1||Brazil vs. Spain||4 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 2||Angola vs. Mexico||7:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 2||Ukraine vs. Turkey||9 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 2||New Zealand vs. United States||11:30 a.m.||ESPN2/WatchESPN|
|Sept. 2||Australia vs. Lithuania||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 2||South Korea vs. Slovenia||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 2||Finland vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Philippines vs. Puerto Rico||7:30 a.m.||ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Mexico vs. Australia||7:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||New Zealand vs. Ukraine||9 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Egypt vs. Iran||9:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Senegal vs. Argentina||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Turkey vs. Finland||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Slovenia vs. Angola||11:30 a.m||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Serbia vs. Brazil||12 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Lithuania vs. South Korea||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Greece vs. Croatia||2 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||United States vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||ESPN2/WatchESPN|
|Sept. 3||Spain vs. France||4 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Australia vs. Angola||7:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Senegal vs. Philippines||8 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Finland vs. New Zealand||9 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Brazil vs. Egypt||9:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||United States vs. Ukraine||11:30 a.m.||ESPN/WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||South Korea vs. Mexico||11:30 a.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Iran vs. France||12 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Croatia vs. Puerto Rico||12 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Turkey vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Lithuania vs. Slovenia||3:30 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Serbia vs. Spain||4 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Sept. 4||Argentina vs. Greece||4 p.m.||WatchESPN|
Teams to Watch
No LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony or Paul George, no problem, right?
Well, it might not be that simple for Team USA as it heads to Spain. But even without America's best few players in the fold, Coach K still has a roster more than capable of dominating every team they face throughout the tournament.
James Harden is turning into the go-to scorer on the wing that Team USA has traditionally thrived on, and strong outside shooters Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson will force opponents to abandon any sort of zone scheme.
One big question throughout has been the play from Team USA's big men, with Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin all withdrawing. But Anthony Davis has been dominant in warm-up affairs and exhibitions, and the coaching staff loaded up on big bodies with Kenneth Faried, Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins and Miles Plumlee all making the team.
Another question mark is the lack of experience on the roster, but Coach K doesn't see that as much of a problem, per ESPN's Mark Jones:
Coach K on inexperience: "people forget that back in the 2010 World Championships(USA won) we had 6 players 21 yrs old,like a college team"— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) July 14, 2014
And last but not least, what can Team USA expect of Derrick Rose? He's looked good in stretches of exhibitions, but coaches have tempered his minutes as he knocks off the rust of missing most of the last two NBA seasons. Coach K admitted Irving would start over Rose in an exhibition against Slovenia Tuesday, but the players would likely split time—a smart move to keep both point guards fresh.
"We'll see as thing goes on," Krzyzewski told ESPN.com's Marc Stein. "We might alternate 'em. Both of them are going to play significant minutes."
With the current strength of USA basketball, the only thing that can get in the Americans' way is themselves—even without some of their best stars in the fold.
Few, if any teams, across the scope of world basketball have the talent to compete with even a depleted Team USA roster, but Spain might be the lone exception.
Led by a frontcourt trio that would make any opposing NBA coach lose his mind, the Spanish look to punish their opponents down low. Brothers Pau and Marc Gasol have long been a dominating duo for Spain at the forward and center spots, with defensive presence Serge Ibaka recently joining them.
Who will win the 2014 FIBA World Cup?
Along with Juan Carlos Navarro, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez in the backcourt, the players Spain roll out in the group stage should be more than enough to advance easily.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla uncovered a staggering statistic about Spain's experience:
Crazy but Pau Gasol and JC Navarro have been representing Spain in FIBA since 1999.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 14, 2014
It's no secret that Coach K and Team USA tailored their final 12-man roster to dealing with Spain's frontcourt advantage. With at least three or four big men on the bench, USA will try to stop the Spanish big men by committee.
If it doesn't work out well that way, expect Spain to upset the Americans and win the World Cup on their home soil.
If a team not named USA or Spain makes a deep run to the final, don't be surprised if it's Argentina.
Spurs guard and recent NBA champion Manu Ginobili won't be with the team this summer in Spain, as he was ruled out with the Spurs citing injury concern. But even without the 37-year-old on the roster, they have a serious chance to make noise.
Luis Scola and Pablo Prigioni are the NBA notables on the team, and both play huge roles—Prigioni as the facilitator and strong defender, and Scola as the go-to option in the post similar to his days with the Phoenix Suns. And along with Real Madrid star Andres Nocioni, the firepower is there.
What sets Argentina up for success most is the favorable group draw. With Croatia, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Greece and Senegal accompanying them in Group B, they should have no trouble winning the group and advancing deep into the tournament.