This Saturday, the tune-up games end and the first official action of FIBA World Cup 2014 kicks off. The entire schedule can be found on the FIBA site, but we'll also break it down below and predict the final, which will take place on Sunday, Sept. 14 and air on ESPN2, as Awful Announcing revealed Tuesday.
Can't get enough of all things FIBA World Cup? This year, the ESPN networks will combine to air every single matchup. ESPN3 will stream all 63 games, while ESPN2 and ESPN will cover all of Team USA's games.
Let's take a look at the full schedule, with TV networks noted where applicable:
|Aug. 30||6:30 a.m.||Croatia vs. Philippines||B|
|6:30 a.m.||Ukraine vs. Dominican Republic||C|
|7:30 a.m.||Angola vs. South Korea||D|
|9:30 a.m.||Egypt vs. Serbia||A|
|10:00 a.m.||New Zealand vs. Turkey||C|
|11:30 a.m.||Austria vs. Slovenia||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Puerto Rico vs. Argentina||B|
|Noon||France vs. Brazil (NBA TV)||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Mexico vs. Lithuania||D|
|2:00 p.m.||Greece vs. Senegal||B|
|3:30 p.m.||United States vs. Finland (ESPN)||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Iran vs. Spain||A|
|Aug. 31||6:30 a.m.||Dominican Republic vs. New Zealand||C|
|7:30 a.m.||South Korea vs. Australia||D|
|7:30 a.m.||Argentina vs. Croatia (NBA TV)||B|
|9:30 a.m.||Serbia vs. France (NBA TV)||A|
|10:00 a.m.||Finland vs. Ukraine||C|
|11:30 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Mexico||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Senegal vs. Puerto Rico||B|
|Noon||Brazil vs. Iran (NBA TV)||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Lithuania vs. Angola||D|
|2:00 p.m.||Philippines vs. Greece||B|
|3:30 p.m.||Turkey vs. United States (ESPN)||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Spain vs. Egypt||A|
|Sept. 1||6:30 a.m.||Croatia vs. Senegal||B|
|9:30 a.m.||Iran vs. Serbia||A|
|11:30 a.m.||Argentina vs. Philippines (NBA TV)||B|
|Noon||France vs. Egypt||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Puerto Rico vs. Greece (NBA TV)||B|
|4:00 p.m.||Brazil vs. Spain (NBA TV)||A|
|Sept. 2||7:30 a.m.||Angola vs. Mexico||D|
|9:00 a.m.||Ukraine vs. Turkey||C|
|11:30 a.m.||Australia vs. Lithuania||D|
|11:30 a.m.||United States vs. New Zealand (ESPN2)||C|
|2:00 p.m.||South Korea vs. Slovenia (NBA TV)||D|
|3:30 p.m.||Finland vs. Dominican Republic||C|
|Sept. 3||7:30 a.m.||Mexico vs. Australia (NBA TV)||D|
|7:30 a.m.||Philippines vs. Puerto Rico||B|
|9:00 a.m.||New Zealand vs. Ukraine||C|
|9:30 a.m.||Egypt vs. Iran||A|
|11:30 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Angola||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Senegal vs. Argentina||B|
|11:30 a.m.||Turkey vs. Finland||C|
|Noon||Serbia vs. Brazil (NBA TV)||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Lithuania vs. South Korea||D|
|2:00 p.m.||Greece vs. Croatia||B|
|3:30 p.m.||Dominican Republic vs. United States (ESPN2)||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Spain vs. France||A|
|Sept. 4||7:30 a.m.||Australia vs. Angola||D|
|8:00 a.m.||Senegal vs. Philippines||B|
|9:00 a.m.||Finland vs. New Zealand||C|
|9:30 a.m.||Brazil vs. Egypt (NBA TV)||A|
|11:30 a.m.||South Korea vs. Mexico||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Ukraine vs. United States (ESPN2)||C|
|Noon||Iran vs. France||A|
|Noon||Croatia vs. Puerto Rico||B|
|3:30 p.m.||Lithuania vs. Slovenia||D|
|3:30 p.m.||Turkey vs. Dominican Republic||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Serbia vs. Spain (NBA TV)||A|
|4:00 p.m.||Argentina vs. Greece||B|
After group play, the action will resume with the round of 16 beginning on Sept. 6-7, with the quarterfinals being played on Sept. 9-10, the semifinals on Sept. 11-12, the third-place matchup on Sept. 13 and the final the following day, in a slight deviation from the 2010 format.
Which two teams are most likely to face off on Sept. 14? Team USA, ranked No. 1 in the world, has a tougher road than normal with stars like Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant out and Paul George's injury. World No. 2 Spain is an obvious favorite, featuring big men Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Argentina, ranked third in the world, should easily win in Group B play, but can it make it through the semifinals?
Final Prediction: United States vs. Spain
Team USA announced its final roster on Aug. 22. The final moves reflected an effort on the part of the United States to get bigger before heading to Spain.
Team USA is undersized compared to the top international teams. Turkey's team, which the United States will face on Aug. 31 in a rematch of the 2010 FIBA World Championship final, has been nicknamed "12 Giant Men."
Thus, big men Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee and Kenneth Faried made it past the cuts to make the United States competitive in size. With point guard Derrick Rose healthy enough to play, Damian Lillard was cut.
In case you missed it late last night, here's the official 12-man Team USA World Cup roster pic.twitter.com/dmPXrwIhuM— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2014
The United States will need to beat its Group C competitors: Finland, No. 7 Turkey, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic and Ukraine. Luckily, their draw landed them in a group with only one fellow top-10 team, so while pool play will be no picnic for Team USA, they should make it through to face Spain in the final.
Spain is a team that has no worries about size. It has one of the best frontcourts in the tournament with the Gasol brothers and Ibaka, in addition to Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio in the backcourt.
To make it to the final to face the United States, Spain will need to beat No. 8 France on Sept. 3. But there's no doubt that in addition to having two of the most talented rosters, a Team USA-Spain final would make for extremely compelling television.