Time: Tuesday, July 31st, at 5:15 EDT
Spread: USA -55
Betting Odds taken from Bovada.lv
Tunisia? Where is that on a map and how did they get in the tournament?
Tunisia was the champions of the 2011 FIBA Championships of Africa. THey had not finished higher than 5th since 1975, before finishing third in 2009 and then the victory in 2011. It was a significant triumph for the African nation, but even they realized they are seriously outclassed against a tough U.S. team. They have also qualified for the 2013 FIBA Championships by virtue of winning the 2011 tournament.
By all accounts, Tunisia is a country on the rise.
But does that really say much against a team comprised of future hall of famers and a conglomerate of guys who will be at the minimum perennial All-Stars?
There is not a single player on the Tunisian team that has made an NBA roster. They do sport some size, with 7 of their 12 players standing 6’8″ or taller, but will that even matter in a game in which Vegas oddsmakers set the spread as high as 55 points? Can we even have any idea of what to expect?
Last game for the US, it was Kevin Durant taking charge against France and putting up 22 points in 28 minutes, while hitting 6 of 13 from the floor (also 3 of 5 from down town). Two other US players reached double figures, as Kevin Love scored a point a minute for 14 point and Kobe nearly did the same, posting 10 points in only 12 minutes of action.
Clearly Coach Kryzewski had every intention of resting his starters and evenly distributing the minutes in a game that was not really a statement game, as much as just another game of pool play. Even 12th man Anthony Davis saw 8 minutes of court time, while LeBron James and Kevin Durant were the only US players to play over 20 minutes…
Expect more of the same tonight, and possibly even to a great degree. Coach K is gong to try to find the minutes for Davis and the lower tier superstars on the squad (see: Andre Iguodala, James Hardne, and Kevin Love).
That makes predicting the spread all the more difficult because we don’t know how early and how often Coach K is going to call upon his deep bench and attempt to save the legs of his key players for the games when it actually counts.
Truthfully, I have no gut instinct on the spread, nor the total. Blowouts are always so difficult to gauge in terms of relative win margins because the best players aren’t on the court the whole time, and we never know if the Americans are going to want to run up the score against a Tunisian team that is just happy to be in the Olympics and finally gaining some respect as a basketball playing country.
Sadly, or perhaps not sadly at all, Tunisia is like a small conference winner in the NCAA. They’re just happy to be a part of the Big Dance.