With the quarterfinal round in the books, let's take another look at performance in the Olympics to date and what that says about the important four games ahead Friday and Sunday.
Here are updated schedule-adjusted point differential ratings for the eight teams that reached the quarterfinals.
United States 33.1
France - 1.0
Lithuania - 1.2
Despite losing to Argentina yesterday, Brazil played well enough during group play to still rate as the second-best team in London. By now, however, there's a crowd of fairly similar teams ahead of two that were eliminated in the quarterfinals (France and Lithuania). Beating France didn't do much for the rating of Spain, which still comes out weakest of the four teams in the semifinals. Believe that at your peril.
Applying the familiar Log5 method yields the following probabilities for the semifinal and final rounds:
Country Final Gold Silver Bronze Medal
USA .982 .963 .019 .018 1.000
Russia .634 .021 .613 .202 .836
Spain .366 .008 .358 .265 .630
Argentina .018 .009 .009 .516 .534
Again, we see the importance of matchups in the Olympics. While Spain has the weakest rating, their chances of medaling are better than Argentina's because Spain essentially has two chances to win a game and get a medal. Realistically, I'd say Argentina has a better chance of pulling the massive upset over the USA than these numbers indicate, but obviously their path is much more difficult.
The U.S. men have been so dominant that statistically, they have a 100 percent chance of winning some kind of medal in the unlikely event they get upset. Doing the math, Log5 shows the odds of the USA finishing fourth and failing to medal as one in every 3,275 runs. I like those odds.
Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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