With the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games only a few days away, interest and intrigue surrounding the event is at an all-time high. The torch is making its way through Brazil and the athletes have arrived at the Olympic Village.
Earlier this week, here at USAbetting, we took the time to offer our tips and predictions regarding the medal table and individual betting options for the track and field/athletics events. Fortunately Olympic betting has become more comprehensive over the years. In addition to the medal count, other events including tennis and most of the team events such as basketball and soccer have odds at the U.S. sportsbooks.
So for the second part of this Olympic preview, we’ll take a look at some of these team games and offer our betting picks and predictions for which countries might take home the gold in each event. Let’s start with one where the United States are overwhelming favorites, that of course being on the basketball courts.
Men and Women’s Basketball
I have used this phrase several times in the past but in no instance does it ring more true than Olympic basketball, especially on the women’s side. There is America and then there’s the rest of the world and as far as the competition goes, it is really not even close.
Take the sportsbooks’ odds for example. On both the men and women’s sides, the U.S. is currently sitting as 1/20 favorites, with Spain following most closely behind on the men’s side at 12/1 and Australia sitting in the same position for the women, also at 12/1.
When it comes to the international game of basketball, the U.S. is just leaps and bounds above everyone else. Of course, this is largely in part to the talent level on display. With professionals occupying most of the spots on these rosters and some of the best names in the NBA and WNBA all wearing the red, white and blue, it makes sense that America would enter as prohibitive favorites.
The women’s team enters this year as the five-time defending gold medalists, following up a campaign from 2012 in which they went undefeated and won all but one of their games by 25 points or more. Of the nine Olympic medal contests for the women, Team USA has won seven of them. Their roster is only getting better thanks to a handful of UConn players, including Brianna Stewart who lost just two games in her collegiate career and Delaware alum Elena Delle Donne, who is the defending WNBA Player of the Year. There is no reason to bet against the United States once again sweeping through to an unprecedented sixth straight gold medal.
On the men’s side, there were a few notable names that pulled out including NBA champion LeBron James and the league’s first ever unanimous MVP Stephen Curry, but the roster in Rio is still stacked with all-star talent. The American team has been nearly as unstoppable as their female counterparts since falling to a shocking bronze medal in 2004.
- Pick: Once again, there is no reason to expect Team USA to finish any worse than the top of the podium.
Men and Women’s Soccer
For the second straight Olympics, the U.S. has failed to qualify a men’s team in the games. However, the women’s team, which ascended to the pinnacle of the soccer world following their most recent world cup victory, is not only participating in Rio but they are favorites to take home the gold medal.
For the most part, the women will be fielding that same team that took the field in Canada for the 2015 World Cup. It features captain Carli Lloyd, who has become the premier international player for the U.S. and Hope Solo (pictured), whose goaltending has been nothing shy of fantastic in her career. For this reason, Team USA is currently favorite at 6/5 odds with Germany, which lost to the red, white and blue in the semifinals close behind as 7/2 second favorites.
- Pick: Just like with basketball, my recommendation is that you put your money with the favorites. And that doesn’t just go for the U.S. women soccer, but the Brazilian men as well.
The men’s Olympic soccer is a little different in that each country is only able to field a U-23 team with just three members eligible to play above that age limit. This was put into place by the IOC and FIFA to help keep the World Cup as the premier soccer tournament and a step above the Olympics. It is for this reason that the U.S. has struggled to qualify in recent years and why countries that are perennially producing talent like Brazil, continue to sit on top.
With a strong squad bolstered by one of their ‘veteran’ players, Neymar, Brazil are 10/11 odds-on favorites to take home gold. Like on the women’s side, it is the German team that is expected to give them the most trouble, coming in second on the books at 6/1. Though Mexico are another country that should not be discounted.
It looks to be a tough 16-team competition but look for the Brazilian national team to come out on top.
Men and Women’s Tennis
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Novak Djokovic is favored to win the gold medal in Rio with at 10/11 and on the women’s side, it is Serena Williams who heads the betting lines at 6/5.
- Pick: Take both Djokovic & Williams to win the gold in Rio.
To anyone that follows tennis, these odds shouldn’t be surprising as both Williams and Djokovic, even with his shocking early exit at Wimbledon, are the premier players in the world. Both are ranked world #1 and both have won majors this year and each of the past several years.
Williams’ biggest challenges come in the form of Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber, the other two women who have won grand slam titles this season, both of which came when they defeated Williams in the finals.
On the men’s side, it is Andy Murray, following his Wimbledon victory, who is poised to give Djokovic his biggest challenge given the recent withdrawals of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the defending champions in the men’s doubles competition.
The new era of men’s tennis is on the brink of breaking through but for now, one poor performance isn’t enough to take Djokovic out of that winner’s circle. Look for him to face off against Murray, the defending gold medalist, in the finals and look for the Serbian to win his gold, completing the career golden slam.
- Check back here at USA Betting during the games to get more previews on some of the top Olympic sports events with our predictions and picks.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.