The Long Shot: Someone other than Team USA taking home the gold in men’s basketball.
The Odds: France 28/1, Australia 20/1, Spain 14/1 (via OddsShark)
Why It Might Happen: Look, the USA has the best team here, and it’s not close. Watching them early on in wins against China (119-62) and Venezuela (113-69) made me think I was watching the NBA All-Star Team play the worst guys from the D-League (and they kind of were). But recently the USA hasn’t been so dominant. Their last two games (94-91 vs Serbia and 100-97 vs France) have been way too close for comfort, and in what is now a single-elimination tournament, betting against the USA doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
Australia’s path to the gold medal game is simply easier than that of France or Spain, who would have to play the USA in the semis.
But if you’re going to do this, you have to be strategic. Spain is the favorite to win silver, so betting on them to win gold would seem to be the safest bet of the options available, but it might not be. Spain lost to Brazil and Croatia during the preliminaries, showing major signs of mediocrity. They have drawn France in the quarterfinals, and France is the team that pushed team USA the most during the prelims.
I don’t think it’s a good bet to throw money at either Spain or France right now, given the difficulty of their quarterfinals game. (In other words, you could bet on Spain to beat the US, but then Spain might go ahead and lose to France.)
Therefore, I’m going for Australia at 20/1 odds–and I recommend you do too. The Aussies lack star power (Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova are their biggest names), but they had enough to embarrass France 87-66 and have had a very strong showing thus far. In fact, their only loss came against Team USA (98-88).
Croatia has also had a strong showing, with a win against Spain, but they have lacked consistency. Same story with Serbia, whom Australia beat 95-80 on Day 3. Those are the two teams that Australia could face in the semis (Lithuania shouldn’t be a problem for them in the quarters). So Australia’s path to the gold medal game is simply easier than that of France or Spain, who would have to play the USA in the semis.
I definitely think Australia will make it to the gold medal game, and who says they can’t pull off an upset? Maybe France or Spain will even pull off the USA upset for them. In summation: AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!!!