USA vs Spain Prediction: Olympic Basketball Betting Picks

August 2, 2021

After a slow start to their Olympic campaign, USA Basketball got back on track and earned a spot in the quarterfinals. Their quarterfinal opponent is Spain, setting up a battle between the top-two teams in the world in the first knockout round. The question will be whether the US men’s basketball team can keep its run of dominance against lesser teams rolling, or if they will struggle the way they did against France. Here, we examine Team USA vs Spain and give our best bet for the contest.

USA vs Spain Men’s Basketball Betting Pick

Team USA vs Spain Pick: USA -12

USA Basketball lost their opening preliminary matchup against France, when they shot under 40% from the field and from three-point range. But they turned things around by destroying Iran and Czech Republic, greatly improving their offensive output in the process. Heading into the quarterfinal round, Team USA is second only to the exciting Slovenian team in terms of scoring average, putting up 105 points per game.

But the key against Spain is going to be the defense of the Americans instead of their offense. Jrue Holiday is going to be especially valuable on the defensive end of the floor, as he will be needed to slow down Ricky Rubio. Rubio is leading Spain with 21 points per game, and is the only player averaging double figures for the Spanish squad. If Holiday can slow him down, which shouldn’t be a problem, Spain’s offense could come crashing down.

Spain has been winning with its defense, as their wins over Argentina and Japan saw the Spaniards hold their opponents under 80 points. But Spain’s defense showed its vulnerabilities in their final group stage game, a loss to Slovenia. Even with Luka Doncic being limited to 12 points due to foul trouble, Spain allowed 95 points and let players like Vlatko Cancar and Mike Tobey carry the offensive load for the undefeated Slovenians.

The most important thing Spain needs to do in this game is get a big output from someone other than Ricky Rubio. No player outside of Rubio has scored 15 or more points in a game for Spain so far in this tournament. Against an American squad that can score in massive quantities, it won’t be enough for the rest of the Spanish squad to max out at 12 points or so, while simply hoping that Rubio continues to score in the 20s.

USA vs Spain has already taken place this summer, with Team USA beating Spain 83-76 during the exhibition campaign in Las Vegas prior to the teams’ departure for Tokyo. Rubio was the only player to score 15+ in that game as well, while the game remained close thanks to the offensive struggles of the US at the time. But that US team was without Khris Middleton, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday, and had to give considerable minutes to players like John Jenkins and Jerami Grant.

The outcome of this game against the spread is going to come down to whether or not the United States can make shots. Spain simply lacks the firepower to keep up with this American squad, and the United States’ recent shooting form suggests that they are going to be just fine against a respectable Spanish defense. Expect the Americans to pull away in the second half the way they did against a similarly offensively challenged Czech Republic en route to a win and a cover.

Team USA vs Spain Pick: USA -12

Olympic Basketball Betting FAQ

What are the current odds to win gold?

USA Basketball is the favorite to win the gold medal in men’s basketball. They sit at -195 odds to win the tournament heading into the quarterfinal round, which is worse than their odds following their loss to France in the preliminary round. But it would still take a sizable upset for the USA to lose in Tokyo.

Who poses the biggest threat to Team USA?

The biggest threat to Team USA might be Slovenia, who went through their group at 3-0 and posted the highest scoring average in the tournament in pool play. Luka Doncic has been spectacular in the tournament, but players like the aforementioned Cancar and Tobey have been spectacular in their own right to make Slovenia more than just a one-man show.

Who will win Argentina vs Australia?

Australia should get the job done against Argentina in the quarterfinals. Argentina needed to be an extremely weak Japan team just to reach this stage of the tournament, with Facundo Campazzo and company being anything but impressive during their first three games in Japan.

Jay Sanin
Jay Sanin is a sports writer and broadcaster from Albany, NY. He has covered sports betting and the gambling industry since 2013.