Basketball has featured at 18 Olympics in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympic Games and the United States of America has triumphed in 14 tournaments. This is highly impressive but Team USA didn’t participate in one of the tournaments which mean that their record stands at 14 wins out of 17 attempts. With this level of domination, it is no surprise to learn that bookmakers have already made the USA the outstanding favourite for the tournament.
Most bookmakers are still to price up the Futures market for the tournament but those that have priced up the market see America as odds on favourites to clinch another Olympic Gold medal. 1980 was the only basketball tournament that the United States didn’t finish in the medal places. Of course, this was the Olympic Games held in Moscow at the height of the Cold War and the Americans boycotted the tournament. This was only the second time that Team USA had failed to clinch the Gold medal, a scenario that has played out four times in 18 different tournaments.
The first time USA failed to win the basketball tournament came in 1972 when the lost the final at the Munich Olympics. After sitting out the 1980 Olympics, the USA came third in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and the 2004 Olympics in Greece.
7 Olympic Gold Medals in a row for USA
America clinched success in the first 7 Olympic tournaments and when they failed to win Gold for the first time, in 1972, they did so in highly controversial circumstances. The fact that the US team never collected their silver medals after the last second defeat to the Soviet Union, and still refuse to acknowledge the result is indicative of the feelings that still run high in the basketball community in America over this loss.
Before this final the USA held a 63-0 record at the Olympics basketball tournament and even now there is a feeling that the final decision owed more to the Cold War politics of the time as opposed to the rules of basketball.
The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia presented a strong challenge to the USA
America reclaimed the crown at the 1976 Olympics but with the USA team sitting out the 1980 Olympics, Yugoslavia became the third winners of the Gold Medal at the basketball Olympics tournament. 1984 saw the Americans reclaim the Gold on home soil, in a tournament that was boycotted by the Soviet Union and in 1988, when the two nations were involved again in Seoul, the Soviet Union clinched their second triumph by defeating USA in the semi-final and then overcoming Yugoslavia in the final.
1992 saw a major change in the way basketball featured at the Olympics. The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia no longer existed which meant that at this point, the USA team was the only existing team who had won the basketball event at the Olympics. That would have been enough reason to make the US side clear favourites but 1992 marked a change in the tournament with professional players from the NBA being allowed to feature for the USA.
The team was dubbed the “Dream Team” and won the tournament without calling a timeout! American success also followed in 1996 and 2000 but there was a shock at the 2004 tournament in Greece when Argentina defeated America in the semi-finals, leaving USA to take third place.
Since then, America has triumphed in 2008 and 2012, defeating Spain in the final on both occasions and many believe that these two teams will be the teams to beat in Rio. Argentina are likely to fly the flag for South America and could pose a real challenge. Given that Argentina is the only existing nation, outside of the US, to have won Gold at the Olympic basketball tournament there will be a lot of responsibility on their shoulders coming into this tournament but as the early bookmaker odds suggest, anything other than a US victory will be deemed as a massive shock.
The US win record at Olympics is phenomenal
Over the course of their Olympic history, the United States have played 135 games, winning 130 and losing 5 matches. This leaves the USA with a win record of .963 which is a massive factor in why the bookmaker odds backing another American win are so unattractive to punters. By the time individual matches are being lined up, there will be more suitable odds when it comes to the margin of victory that the US team should clinch. One of the best things about basketball betting is that there is always going to be a bet that is of value or interest thanks to the handicap markets.
The Soviet Union played a total of 74 games, winning 61 matches and losing 13 games for a record of .824. Yugoslavia played a total of 60 games, winning 48 games and losing 12 matches for a record of .758. Again, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia no longer exist with respect to sporting tournaments which means that the next best team after the US are Lithuania. Lithuania have only contested 46 matches at the Olympics, winning 29 games and losing 17, leaving it with a .630 record.
The present day nations who have a better than a .500 record at the Olympics are USA, Lithuania, Argentina, Italy, Chinese Tapei, Croatia, Brazil, Serbia, Canada, Greece, Spain, Mexico, France and Uruguay. Russia have a .500 record over 20 games, winning 10 and losing 10 matches since they started competing from the 2000 Olympics. So far, the Russian side has participated in three Olympics, 2000, 2008 and 2012, failing to qualify for the 2004 games in Greece or the upcoming games in Rio.
You can expect to hear the story of Leicester City, priced at 5000 to 1 outsiders who marched on to win the English Premier League alongside talk of the 2016 basketball games but you shouldn’t get carried away. The odds on some of the teams challenging USA will be a lot shorter than the ones applied to the Foxes but it would be a monumental shock if anyone other than USA takes home the Gold medal from Rio.