Members of the U.S. Olympic basketball team at a press conference announcing… (Jason Bean / Associated…)
Is there any scenario Team USA could lose in the 2012 London Olympics?
Pretty much no.
The U.S. men's basketball team remains such an overwhelming favorite to win its fifth gold medal in the last six games that oddsmakers are being creative in enticing gamblers to bet on something involving the team. Vegas oddsmakers don't take bets on the Olympic Games, but RJ Bell of Pregame.com says a high number of websites and bookies in London tab the men's basketball team as 1-8 favorites.
They believe it will be so much of a whitewash that the point spread rests at 50.5 and there's only a 46% chance Team USA would trail in the second half of any game. Although the numbers weren't readily available, Bell said Team USA is considered heavy favorites even relative to their standing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"In general, the world has gotten better so you'd think that favors the 2008 team," Bell said in a phone interview. "But what's changed too is the reality is in 2008, the U.S. was called the 'Redeem Team.' There were still some questions on whether the U.S. is still dominant."
Team USA answered that question by finishing 8-0 and beating teams by an average of 27.9 points. Spain trailed by only four points with 2:25 remaining in the gold medal final. But then Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant made clutch shots en route to a 118-107 victory.
Spain vows it can exact revenge thanks to the incredible size advantage it has with the Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon. Meanwhile, injuries to Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin leave the U.S. with only Tyson Chandler as its true center. Still, with LeBron James playing that position and Carmelo Anthony scoring 23 of his 27 points in the first half, Team USA hardly had a problem in its 100-78 victory in exhibition this week against Spain. That's why it shouldn't be surprising Spain is considered the second favorite to win gold with only 8-1 odds.
Stlll, Team USA's predicted superiority won't be enough for oddsmakers to pen them as better than the 1992 Dream Team. Bell said oddsmakers are tabbing that squad as a six-point favorite in a hypothetical matchup.
"It's a combination of the lack of size on the 2012 team and the reality is you have some of the best players with Magic [Johnson], Michael [Jordan] and [Larry] Bird," Bell said. LeBron [James] has won one title and Kobe [Bryant] is a little older. The way it's discussed a lot is how many guys from this team would've made the Dream Team. They're saying there might be three or four. Once you get to that fifth guy, would he have even made the team?
Perhaps not considering the Dream Team also featured Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and John Stockton.
Still, there's a reason USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told reporters he believes this year's team is "more mature" and "deeper" than the so-called Redeem Team.
James and Anthony are playing in their third consecutive Olympics. The U.S. has scoring options and versatile threats in Bryant, James and Durant. Its backcourt in Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook will give any team fits when they run in the open floor.
The current gambling sentiments suggest no one will literally keep up with Team USA.
Said Bell: "It's a commentary on the general level of NBA player versus the rest of the world."
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