Team USA Men’s basketball barely got past a tough Serbian team on Friday night and now has a tough battle with a desperate French team on Sunday morning. The USA men are -18 ½ favorites with a total of 181, but will the United States once again fail to cover a double-digit spread?
Two of the top three or four teams in the world heading into the Olympics have been really struggling and/or not looking as good as advertised. The Spanish national team might be in danger of missing out on the medal round, but the French has quietly not played well either.
Outside of Tony Parker, the other French stars like Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert have been nonexistent so far in the group stage. Batum has looked pretty invisible while Gobert has been muscled around at times. If both of these players are playing below expectations, Parker alone will not be enough to beat Team USA.
While I expect the French to come to play early as they look for a much-needed upset for a boost in moral, the United States should also bounce back after playing poorly at times against the Serbs.
The U.S. has now failed to cover two games in a row, but after giving up 91 points to the Serbs, I expect the U.S. to continue to try and improve their defense against the French.
For the French, their offense has been the biggest issue for them so far in this tournament. They have averaged just 81.5 points per game, but two of those big scoring games were against Venezuela and China, two teams that are far from the U.S's level of competition. Their two games against better teams like Australia and Serbia they scored only 66 and 76 points respectfully. If they can't get going against those teams, even the faster pace of the Americans won't be enough for the French to get above 80 points in Sunday's game.
The Sharp Pick
Despite the high-scoring game between the Serbs and the Americans back in the 2015 World Championships, the under cashed in their game on Friday night thanks to a low scoring first and third quarter for Serbia. We could see the same from the French against the United States, especially as we get into crunch time of the group stage.
The French scored fewer than 20 points in three of the four quarters against an average Serbian defense and in the first game against the Boomers the French failed to score more than 19 points in a quarter.
With a total of 181 and with the United States starting to look a little better on defense, the under might be the play once again here. The French don't have much defense as evidenced by some of their games against better teams so far this summer, but their offense can go into slumps.
Parker is not the offensive player he was four or even eight years ago and Batum has been unheard of on offense so far. Gobert isn't much of an offensive post player either, so with Parker and Boris Diaw as the main two options offensively, it could be another 70-point game for the French. Look for the United States to score less than 100, so add the under to your Olympics betting picks.
Free Basketball Pick: Under 181