The United States men’s basketball team showed a crack in the armor on Saturday morning during an exhibition against Australia in Melbourne. The Aussies, led by a monster night from Patty Mills, knocked off the Americans, 98-94, in a stunning loss that ended a 78-game winning streak for the red, white, and blue.
It was merely an exhibition, and there’s time between now and the start of the World Cup next week for Gregg Popovich and co. to shore up some of the issues that popped up in the loss. Plus the team now knows exactly who will suit up in China due to Kyle Kuzma leaving the team with an apparent ankle injury, one that prevented him from playing against the Boomers.
But in the aftermath of all this, the odds for the United States to lift its third World Cup in a row took a hit. Westgate still has them as the favorites to win the whole thing, but after opening with 1/5 (-500) odds, the U.S. is down to 4/7 (-150) odds to win it all. These took a minor hit from last week, when the team was sitting at 4/9 (-225) to come out on top.
Here’s where the teams in the tournament sit, per the Action Network:
- United States: 4/7
- Serbia: 2-1
- Greece: 10-1
- Spain: 20-1
- France: 25-1
- Australia: 30-1
- Lithuania: 60-1
- Canada: 100-1
- Argentina, Italy: 150-1
- Russia, Brazil, Germany, Turkey: 250-1
- Montenegro, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico: 500-1
- China, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Iran, Nigeria: 1,000-1
- Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Tunisia, Venezuela: 2,000-1
- Senegal, Ivory Coast: 3,000-1
- Angola, Jordan: 5,000-1
It makes sense that Serbia and Greece are such formidable threats to the United States, as they boast a pair of All-NBA first-team selections in Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Spain and France are always dangerous, while Australia just showed it can beat the favorites, which presumably played a role in them jumping from 60-1 last week to where they are now.
This does illustrate that, even with a less-heralded squad, the Americans should win the whole thing. They boast 12 NBA players, a few All-Stars, and some really bright young stars who could get to that level some day. It may not be the Dream Team or the Redeem Team, but still, the expectation is for this group to win a third World Cup in a row.