Groups C and D are in action on Day 4 of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and that means Team USA will be looking to improve its record to 3-0 after dismantling Finland on Saturday and pulling away late against Turkey for another blowout victory. With the remaining Group C teams all losing at least once, the Americans can put themselves in great position with a win on Tuesday.
Expect plenty of excitement from Group D as well. Both Lithuania and Slovenia are undefeated, with each team earning two decisive victories. With these squads set to clash on Thursday, rest assured each will be looking to continue its momentum during Tuesday's action.
Will these teams continue to flourish on Day 4, or will we see another capable team shake things up with a big upset? There's plenty at stake, and we're absolutely in store for some compelling basketball. Let's take a look at the day's schedule followed by predictions for each group's most notable match.
|2014 FIBA World Cup Day 4 Schedule|
|Group||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|D||Angola vs. Mexico||7:30 a.m.||ESPN3|
|C||Ukraine vs. Turkey||9 a.m.||ESPN3|
|D||Australia vs. Lithuania||11:30 a.m.||ESPN3|
|C||United States vs. New Zealand||11:30 a.m.||ESPN2|
|D||South Korea vs. Slovenia||2 p.m.||NBA TV|
|C||Finland vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||ESPN3|
Top Match Predictions
United States vs. New Zealand
It wasn't pretty for the top-seeded Americans during their second game of the tournament against Turkey. Team USA simply couldn't seem to find its groove early in the game and entered the half down 40-35.
That didn't come close to resembling the Americans' dominating 114-55 victory against Finland in their first game.
Luckily, the team was able to right the ship in the second half, scoring 31 points in the third quarter and 32 in the fourth to come away with a 21-point victory. Plays like this from Kyrie Irving propelled the team to the win:
New Zealand comes into the game as the world's 19th-ranked team after suffering two consecutive losses at the hands of Turkey and the Dominican Republic.
The team isn't exactly star-studded and is only shooting 37.1 percent from the floor. However, Thomas Abercrombie has been New Zealand's biggest bright spot, averaging 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 57.1 percent. If the team is to have any chance against the Americans, it will need to get the ball into the hands of the 6'6" forward.
New Zealand is a big underdog for a reason, as the United States is extremely talented and looking to make a statement after its showing against Turkey. Expect a rout here.
Prediction: United States 112, New Zealand 68
Australia vs. Lithuania
This contest could go a long way in deciding the outcome of Group D. World No. 4 Lithuania has looked very impressive in its first two games, winning in decisive fashion against Mexico and Angola. However, Australia is no slouch, either. The world's No. 9 squad was upset by Slovenia in its opening game but rebounded nicely by pummeling South Korea in its next contest.
Lithuania has been able to dominate the interior thanks to its two NBA big men, Donatas Motiejunas and Jonas Valanciunas, who stand at 7'0" and 6'11", respectively. The duo has combined for an average of 27.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Add in the capable perimeter shooting of Jonas Maciulis—he's shooting 71.4 percent from downtown—and you have a very well-rounded squad.
The team isn't only prolific on the offensive end of the court. Take a look at this devastating block by Valanciunas against Mexico:
Australia has its work cut out for it but features an exciting group of NBA players, including rookie Dante Exum. So far, the team has heavily relied on the efforts of Aron Baynes of the San Antonio Spurs and Joe Ingles of the Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Baynes has been lights out, averaging 17 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while connecting on 53.8 percent of his shots from the floor. Ingles has been extremely efficient, averaging 14.5 points per game while shooting an impressive 75 percent from the field.
Here's a look at Exum at work off a nice dish against South Korea:
This is about as even of a contest as we will see in this year's World Cup. While Lithuania has been a better shooting team, Australia has been better in the paint and is more explosive on fast breaks. This game is an upset waiting to happen.
Prediction: Australia 86, Lithuania 83