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Just The Sports: US Basketball Only Has Two Legitimate Challengers

Just The Sports

Saturday, September 04, 2010

US Basketball Only Has Two Legitimate Challengers

As the FIBA World Championships has entered the knockout stages, the United States need only concern itself with two other countries in its quest to win its first world championship title since 1994. Even though it has been popular among the media to talk mostly about what the United States cannot do, they are still in the pole position of the tournament and should be considered a favorite to walk away with the gold medal.

During the group play, the United States won their five games in the most dominating fashion of the tournament field, defeating their opponents by 32.6 points per 100 possessions.

Their extremely large margin of victory is slightly better than the country who is the United States' biggest challenger to the title. The host country, Turkey, has also completely manhandled every opponent they have faced so far. In their group play games, Turkey has outscored their opponents by 31.5 points per 100 possessions, only trailing the United States by 1.1 point per 100 possessions.

The way in which the FIBA bracket is set up, Turkey and the United States would only play each other in the championship game, which would be the best match-up of the tournament.

The second best match-up of the tournament would see the United States pitted against Serbia, who is the second-most dangerous opponent the United States could face. Serbia outscored their group play opponents by 29.1 points per 100 possessions, demonstrating they too are able to dominate. The better a team is, the more able the team is to demolish lesser competition.

Fortunately for the United States, the way in which the FIBA bracket is set up means only facing either Turkey or Serbia and not both as Turkey and Serbia would play each other in the semi-finals if both continue their winning ways.

Although Spain and Argentina are also seen as major threats to the United States, their play in the group stages cannot match what the United States, Turkey, and Serbia did. Argentina was undefeated, but only outscored their opponents by 9.5 points per 100 possessions, which means the Argentinians are not as great a team as they are made out to be.

Spain was the fourth most dominant team in the group stages, outscoring opponents by 17.0 points per 100 possessions, but still not approaching elite level. Also, Spain is in the half of the bracket with Turkey and Serbia so based on the luck of the draw, the United States will only have to play one of the top teams to win the gold medal.

The toughest path to the FIBA World Championships title for the United States would include a championship game against either Turkey or Serbia. Any other opponent and the United States should be able to win fairly easily.

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