Australia vs. Nigeria Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Underdog Has Value in Olympic Opener (July 25)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: KZ Okpala.
Australia vs. Nigeria Odds
|Time||4:20 a.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.|
Australia and Nigeria tip off the Olympic action for Group B while most of the United States will be asleep. Both of these teams took down the star-studded Team USA team during the exhibition matches in Las Vegas.
These teams played each other in Vegas on July 14th and Team Australia absolutely destroyed the Team Nigeria 108-69. Despite that loss, oddsmakers have made Nigeria just an 8.5-point underdog.
Let's break down this opening matchup between two nations trying to finish at the top of Group B.
Australia Has Strong Team Chemistry
The Australian national team's big strength is continuity. While they'll be missing Ben Simmons for the Olympics, they have a roster full of familiar names.
Joe Ingles and Patty Mills have played together for over 13 years, and Chris Goulding has played with those two as well. Goulding has played internationally, and over the last three seasons he averaged 16 points, 2 boards and 2 assists per game. This type of team chemistry is invaluable. For your reference, I compiled a list of all the NBA players for each Olympic team for the Action Network, and you can find it here.
Australia is an excellent shooting team. They have Joe Ingles who sported an elite 65.7% eFG% including 46% from 3-point range last NBA season; Patty Mills is coming off a season with a 54.4% eFG% and shot 38% from 3 and 44% from mid-range. Even Chris Goulding is a sharpshooter from long range and just a few weeks ago drained 7-of-7 from 3-point range.
If Australia is able to replicate their shooting performance from just a few weeks ago, they will be tough to beat. Granted that should be nearly impossible. The Aussies shot an incredible 63.2% including 18 of 29 (62.1%) from 3 point range in their victory over Nigeria. That type of shooting is unsustainable even with a slightly closer 3-point line than the NBA.
Nigeria Could Be Olympics Dark Horse
Nigeria made waves after winning two games against the USA and Argentina, despite dropping their matchup against Australia. They've become a darling and potential dark horse to medal during these Olympics.
One thing that has gone under the radar is not only their NBA talent (eight players, the second most to the USA) but also their coaching staff. Nigeria has Mike Brown at the helm, a three-time NBA Champion, Coach of the Year, and current associate Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors. Of note, Mike Brown is 127-116-1 ATS as a an underdog during his head coaching tenure, per Action Labs.
The Nigerian team struggled against the Aussies on July 14, but it's not because they are not talented. They were essentially hit with an incredible amount of shot variance on both sides of the ball. We discussed Australia's hot shooting, but Nigeria shot just 34.3% from the floor and 8-of-31 (25.8%) from 3-point range. This should even out for them in this game.
Australia is the No. 3 ranked team in the FIBA Rankings and has high expectations in this tournament, but this Nigerian team is full of rising talent that is looking to make their stamp on the Olympics.
Australia defeated Nigeria without many of their top players including Ingles and Mills, but the team literally could not have played better. They are due for some offensive and defensive regression. Ingles, Mills, Baynes, and Dellavedova would love to shoot that well in any game during these Olympics.
I think the Nigerian team is a bit undervalued because of their performance against the Aussies in Las Vegas, and this is an opportunity to buy. Mike Brown should be able to make the necessary adjustments and this presents some value. I'll take Nigeria and the points.
Pick: Nigeria +8.5