All games are on
Teams will get eliminated today, and seeds will finally begin to take shape. Some teams look to finish the group stage undefeated, while others are entering last chance station, hoping to salvage a tournament berth.
Team USA vs. Lithuania
Time: 8:30 AM CST
Normally there'd be more hubbub about this game, but Lithuania has had a disappointing tournament so far, clearly suffering from a weak front line. Robertas Javtokas bailed out of the games at the last second due to an injured ankle, leaving the team with the inexperienced Jonas Valanciunas and the questionable Darius Songaila and Antanas Kavilauskas. Songaila has scored effectively, but they haven't defended the interior very well and they've had to rely too much on their jump shooting. On top of all of that, Lithuania has really struggled with athletic players like Tony Parker and Nicholas Batum and was obliterated by Team USA in 2010.
For now, all signs are pointing to a blowout. And it will probably be that. But it Lithuania is to succeed, they'll need to keep their turnovers low and shut down the paint. As long as they keep Team USA out on the perimeter shooting jumpshots, they'll have a chance of success. A chance. But that's a tall order for this team, and I doubt it will be competitive by the start of the fourth.
Russia vs. Spain
Time: 5:15 AM CST
Finally! The tie atop Group B will be broken, as the two current favorites to beat Team USA will go head-to-head in an epic contest. These teams haven't met since 2007, so it's hard to say how the game will turn out. But Spain is a team that can be exploited by good all-around team shooting, and they're prone to committing turnovers. Some say their scoring has been hurt a little bit by the loss of point guard Juan Carlos Navarro, but they have more than enough scorers playing for Spain. Where his loss really hurts is in the turnover area, as Sergio Rodriguez now has to do more ballhandling, along with the less accomplished Victor Sada.
Russia, meanwhile, powered through the qualifying tournament and has been the bees knees in this Olympic tournament so far. After breezing by Great Britain and China, they faced a tough challenge from Brazil, casting only the smallest of doubts about their ability to go all the way. The team relies on shooting a bit too much, and they, like Spain, have a turnover problem. They're also a pretty big team, and tend to foul a lot when they play tough defense inside.
In the end, this will be a very close game, with the winner likely to be rewarded with a easy first round matchup against Lithuania, and the loser likely to face a much tougher challenge in Argentina or France. I'd pick Russia to win, if only because they have more clutch players on their team with Navarro out.
Below: Analysis on Today's Other Matchups!
Tunisia vs. France, 3:00 AM CST. France should roll, unless Tunisia can figure out how to play a full 40 minutes and control the pace. China vs. Brazil, 10:45 AM CST. It's China's last chance, and they might have a better shot than normal because Brazil is just as bad at rebounding as they are. But Brazil's bench and ball movement are much better, so it probably won't be too close. Great Britain vs. Australia, 2:00 PM CST. Team GB must win to stay alive in this all-commonwealth matchup. It's pretty much a case of bigs (Great Britain) vs. guards (Australia), and whether either team's weak points can be covered. Australia has been better at being a balanced team so far, but Great Britain has brought Spain to the brink. I'd pick Australia though, because of their better game management. Nigeria vs. Argentina, 4:15 PM CST. Nigeria should be a handful for the slow-starting Argentinian team, and the score will fluctuate wildly. But Nigeria has been a huge Olympic flop so far, and they haven't shown any signs of returning to their previous form yet.
What do you think of today's games? Let us know by posting a comment!