Olympic Quarterfinal Bracket: Team USA Opens Against Argentina


The Olympic quarterfinal bracket is set. The United States will play Argentina on Wednesday afternoon.

When you get down to the final eight teams in the world, there aren’t any easy outs. The United States still reigns supreme, but the rest of the world has closed that gap. There is no better example than the group play in the preliminary round of this summer’s Olympics in Rio, which has given us a particularly intriguing Olympic quarterfinal bracket.

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After a couple of big wins, Team USA has struggled to beat Australia, Serbia and then France. The performance against Australia was deemed a reality check and everyone expected the team to bounce back. Instead, they floundered through three quarters of their matchup with Serbia before sneaking out with a win thanks to a missed wide-open 3-point attempt with seconds left.

Again, USA got the benefit of the doubt that they would rebound from a close call against an inferior opponent to power through France, who played without Tony Parker. Yet again, the United States failed to consistently outplay their opponents over four quarters, blowing a 16-point lead against the French team, going scoreless for over two minutes to close the game. France made a 3-point shot to make it look closer than it was as time expired, but the point is that it should never have been that close to begin with.

Despite all of this, the United States finished the preliminary round with a record of 5-0. Now, they’re the top seed in Group A. Let’s take a quick look at the matchups and path of the final eight squads chasing the medal positions.

The path to the gold medal game mixes seeds from Group A and Group B to produce a lowest seed in one group playing the top seed in the other group.

Croatia (B1) vs. Serbia (A4)

Any fan of USA Basketball should be familiar with Serbia. They gave the United States their best challenge of the tournament so far. Nikola Jokic had an amazing game against the United States, as did Milos Teodosic and Bogdan Bogdanovic. It was inspired basketball, but still a loss. Their challenge will be to take out the top team from Group B, Croatia. The Croatian squad is loaded with soon-to-be 76ers Dario Saric and countrymen Mario Hezonja and Bojan Bogdanovic. Of course, try to not confuse Bogdan and Bojan. I will definitely do it at least five teams during their Wednesday matchup.

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Australia (A2) vs. Lithuania (B3)

Hey look, it’s the Australian team. Matthew Dellevadova, Andrew Bogut and other guys. This team is playing particularly well in this tournament and has to be one of the top four teams in the world right now. The United States has to be happy that Croatia and Australia are on the other side of the bracket. The Lithuanian team features Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas, but if you pressed me to name any other players, I couldn’t. I definitely cannot spell the names of any other players on the team, this much is certainly true.

Spain (B2) vs. France (A3)

This is the biggest match of the quarterfinals. If you are picking just one to watch, this has to be the one. The USA is probably going to win and isn’t very fun to watch. Like, no fun at all. Spain is probably the rooting interest of Bulls fans as they feature three players who were a Bull at some point in 2016. Both Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic were on the Bulls for the entire 2015-16 season.

Gasol has since moved to the San Antonio Spurs while Mirotic is having little fun at the Olympics, but figures to be the lead candidate for the starting role at power forward in Chicago heading into the 2016-17 season. Then there is Jose Calderon. Calderon was with the Bulls for about a week. Or two. Or… I don’t remember. He was with the Bulls for a short time, a piece in the Derrick Rose-Robin Lopez trade, who was then moved to another team shortly afterward.

France, you may remember, is the team that the United States barely beat. Led by human cappuccino machine, Boris Diaw, the French team was a strong favorite to challenge for a medal heading into the Olympics and now they will have the opportunity to make that statement in an exciting matchup against their neighbors.

United States (A1) vs. Argentina (B4)

I love A1 Steak Sauce. I heard it is bad for you, like you shouldn’t have more than one serving of it per month. I used to eat it on everything – French fries, hamburgers, steak, mashed potatoes, chicken. I haven’t had any for a while, but I’m sure that it still tastes good. Argentina used to be really good at basketball. The Golden Generation took home the big prize at the 2004 Olympics, beating a USA team that looked about like this one.

The problem is that the Argentinian team is literally the same players as the 2004 team, a group of seasoned veterans who have passed their prime. Meanwhile, this iteration of USA Basketball is a group of fresh faces who have the same problems that the 2004 team also demonstrated. And what I mean by that is that they don’t look very good and aren’t inspiring confidence. Any similarity beyond that I can’t remember.

All four of these games are set to take place on Wednesday, starting at 9 AM CST with Australia and Lithuania. The United States and Argentina will play at 4:45 PM CST. The winners of these four games will play on Friday afternoon.