The 2020, er 2021, Olympic games are underway in Tokyo, Japan. Once again the United States is favored to dominate the medal count. The US is favored in many of the traditional American powerhouse sports; swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and of course basketball. While we have seen the men’s team get challenged often we have not often seen the women’s team face similar challenges; until now.
The USA is favored to win gold once again, but several teams look to challenge the USA’s dominance. The US women are in a tough pool with Australia and Spain, two nations that have given the US problems in the past. Beyond that France, Canada, China and Nigeria all look to give the US women trouble.
Canada may be an especially troubling team for Team USA. The ratio of professional Women Basketballers in Canada has skyrocketed in the past few years and several amateurs are poised to go pro in the WNBA. Canada has seen an increase in basketball players of both genders since the Toronto Raptors joined the NBA in 1995. However, despite that, Canadian betting sites still have the US as #1.
One of the biggest controversies to befall Team USA going into this Olympic games was surrounding the roster makeup of the women’s basketball team. Several former University of Connecticut players were selected over what appeared to be more deserving players. This has lead to a couple of WNBA all-stars reclassifying themselves to play for other countries, primarily Nigeria. This has helped bolster some other nations’ rosters.
The controversy likely will not affect team USA much as they have adequate firepower to get past most other nations.
Another thing to watch will be Sue Bird making her 5th Olympic appearance, tying her with Teresa Edwards for most all-time for an American basketball player. Should Team USA win gold, it would give Bird 5 Olympic gold medals which would also be a record for an American basketball player. Bird’s wife is also going for gold with Team USA soccer. Bird is married to soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Should both Bird and Rapinoe win gold, they’d be the first American married couple to win gold at the same Olympics.
One thing that also gives Team USA an advantage is going to be experienced. The average age for a member of Team USA is 28. The roster contains six players over 30 years old including the 40-year-old Bird. The youngest player is 24-year old Napheesa Collier. Several members of Team USA are playing in at least their third Olympic games including Sylvia Fowles and Diana Taurasi.
The American women are all taller than their international counterparts. Team USA brings 6’9″ Brittany Griner with them as the tallest player in the women’s competition this year. Griner has a history of punishing smaller players who try to get in her way. Besides her height, she also has a very large wingspan which allows he to get the ball higher than her opponent can usually jump. She is also one of the few female basketball players who can dunk. Should the US face Japan in the tournament stage, Griner could have a field day as the Japanese team does not field anyone over six feet tall.
Overall, Team USA should run away with the gold metal as there really isn’t anyone out there able to stop them.