Olympics Men’s Basketball Betting Preview: 13 Picks from The Action Network Podcast
Ned Dishman/Getty Images. Pictured: Bam Adebayo, Keldon Johnson, Kevin Durant
The Action Network’s basketball analysts Brandon Anderson, Raheem Palmer, and Joe Dellera have been handicapping NBA games all season, and now they shift their focus to the Olympics.
In the latest episode of The Action Network podcast, our experts analyzed their favorite bets in the men’s basketball group stage and the most interesting futures for the tournament.
Check out who their sleepers are and how you should go about betting on team USA as big favorites to win the gold. The odds listed are current as of recording time.
Who Wins Group B?
(The “Group of Death” includes Australia, Nigeria, Italy, and Germany)
Palmer: Australia (-205 — BetMGM)
Australia is the cream of the crop. They have plenty of NBA players. They have Dante Exum. They have Patty Mills, who might as well be Allen Iverson in Fiba.
Joe Ingles, Aaron Baynes, Josh Green. They benched their starters and dominated Nigeria by 50. I think this is the second best team overall. They also have Josh Giddey who may be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
They have wings who can really switch on both sides of the floor. They can score inside and also hit threes. They have a great roster, and Matisse Thybulle is being unleashed on this team.
Anderson: Italy (+470 — BetMGM)
I kinda like Italy in this group. They are cagey, wiley, and know how to play together. Danilo Gallinari is the best player in the group by NBA standards. Nicolo Melli is a good player and an international fit. Italy is as high as +600 to win on other books.
I don’t think anyone goes undefeated in this group, so can they go 2-1 and maybe eke out a tiebreaker group win.
Dellera: Nigeria (+450 to win group; -235 to make knockout round — DraftKings)
I am picking Nigeria to win the group. You can get them between +250 and +450 so at the right number I like them. I think they will advance to the knockout round.
The top three teams will beat up on Germany and maybe get a third team into the knockout. Nigeria to make the knockout round is the play I would lean toward the most, and you can find it at about -235.
Germany to be Eliminated in the Group Stage -125 (BetMGM)
Brandon: We’re all on three different teams to win the group, and none of them are Germany. Germany is missing Dennis Schroder, who is normally their star in international ball.
They’re missing Daniel Theis, who is a good player. Their NBA players on this team are Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga, so they’ve basically got the Wizards backups — which seems, not great. You can play Germany to go out in the group stage at -125. That’s my safest, best play in this group.
Best Bets for Group C
(Group includes Spain, Slovenia, Argentina, and Japan)
Raheem: Spain -130 to win Group C (BetMGM)
I think you summed it up with Spain being so far ahead of everyone else in this group. I think that’s the play.
Joe: Slovenia +800 to be eliminated in group stage (BetMGM)
I agree that Spain wins. If Argentina beats Slovenia, then Slovenia is +800 to get knocked out in the group stage. Slovenia is a popular team because of Luka Doncic, but you already are penciling in Spain and Argentina to advance.
Brandon: Argentina +190 to beat Slovenia (DraftKings)
And if Doncic picks up a little injury, they’re done at that point. We know he battled through some injuries in the playoffs and that he is gonna be cautious that way.
My best bet in this group also involves fading Slovenia. Slovenia opens against Argentina, and Slovenia has never played in the Olympics before. We know that Luka will be by far the best player on the floor, but I like Argentina to win that game with the veteran experience and being ready for the moment and the Olympics.
They’re +190 on the moneyline right now, and Argentina’s experience could be a big advantage in the opening game of the Olympics.
Group A: Is there value on the USA to win gold at -350?
Anderson: If I was going to play team USA to win the Gold, I would wait until after the France game. I won’t be shocked if the USA loses that game. If they lose, then the odds drop dramatically. If the USA wins, then I’m not sure the odds get much longer, so I’m not sure you have that much to gain by getting your money in now at -350.
Palmer: At -350, it denotes that the USA should win this at 77% of the time. I probably think they win this more than 77% of the time. I do think there’s a small edge there, but with all of the COVID issues and the turmoil regarding this roster, I’m not sure that you want to lay your money at -350 on that.
Anderson: With Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton still partying after winning The NBA Finals, and Devin Booker also being a late arrival, I think the USA could be susceptible in that first matchup against France. Gobert is awesome, especially in international ball. Zach LaVine is also in COVID protocol, and we don’t know if he’ll be able to play. France is +450 on the moneyline, and I don’t love that, but France is +700 to win Group A.
If France beats team USA, then they would have to lose both games against the Czech Republic and Iran to not win the group. If you’re doubting team USA, this is a better way of essentially getting +700 on the moneyline in that first game. I do like that play and don’t feel too un-American because the USA can still win the next two games and then win the Gold.
Palmer: I like that angle on France, and I’d rather play it game-by-game to get better value on USA. I want to catch them live because that’s when you’re going to have your biggest edge with Holiday, Middleton, and Booker not yet settled on the team yet. I want to fade them early and then the USA eventually pulls it off.
Favorite Futures Bets Part 1
Dellera: France to medal +175 (BetMGM)
France has a ton of NBA guys, and what I like about them is that they are definitely going to advance out of Group A with the United States. The way the seeding works, then it’s unlikely that they play the USA until at least the semifinals.
At +175 to medal, I think there are decent odds here. They have the talent clearly, and they’re really just behind Australia and Spain behind the US, so I like the plus money on them.
Anderson: One of my picks I’m considering and am more hesitant about now is France to be eliminated in the first knockout game at +115. I think France definitely makes knockout play, but I’m just a little lower on France than you (Joe). I think they are a tier behind Australia and Spain, and I’d put them closer in a tier with Italy (which is another bet I’d consider — for them to make knockout play and be eliminated in that first knockout game at +100).
I don’t know that I will play France to be eliminated in that first game now, but I also don’t love betting them to medal yet because they will likely have to beat at least one of Australia or Spain to do so. I would rather wait and get value on the individual games than playing the medal there.
Palmer: Argentina knocked out in the quarterfinals -110 (BetMGM)
I’m not high on this team. I think they get past the group stage, but we talked about earlier how they are going to struggle athletically (against teams like Spain, USA, Australia, or Nigeria).
Anderson: Australia to medal +110 (BetMGM)
I don’t feel good about backing Australia to get to the gold medal game – it depends on the bracket a bit. I also don’t feel great about them winning the gold. Remember, this is a team that has never medaled ever before. That’s the goal. The goal is this team needs to win a medal.
They want to win gold, but they have to win a medal. This team is good. The pool is a little bit more open than usual. They have veterans. They got fourth place last tournament. They were fourth place in the World Cup in between the Olympics. They keep coming up just short, and I could see a bronze for them. I think they make the semis, and if they do, then they have two chances to win one game.
Favorite Futures Bets Part 2
Dellera: Nigeria to win Group B +450 (BetMGM)
I’m kind of high on Nigeria, and I know that they’re in the same group as Australia, but if you can get them at +450, I like the value for a sprinkle on them to win Group B. I understand it’s a tough number and a tough ask, but with their athleticism and coaching, I think they can get through it.
Australia doesn’t have Ben Simmons – one of their best players. Even with Italy — another decent team in the group — I think that Italy could beat Australia and give Nigeria another way to win the group.
Palmer: Australia to be runner up +220 (BetMGM)
I don’t see Australia beating the USA. I think they will get all the way to the gold medal game. I think they’re the strongest non-USA team. I was really impressed by the way they beat Nigeria. They sat their starters, and they still went out there and dominated. They have so much, and I’m rolling with them.
Anderson: Spain 10-1 to win the gold medal (BetMGM)
It would not be an official Action Network podcast if I didn’t have at least one absolutely outlandish bet. So here it is: Spain +1000 to win the gold medal.
Spain beat Australia at both of the last two Olympics so Spain has Australia’s number. Australia is the younger and hungrier team, but Spain has that wily veteran thing.
When the minutes really matter, Marc and Pau are gonna be out there doing their thing together. I don’t know that we will see a lot of those guys the whole tournament, but I think they will save them for when they have to.
If someone is going to beat team USA, Spain is the team to do it. They’ve got the veterans. They’ve got the wile. Matched up against team USA, it’s the sort of team that can keep it close and then see what happens.
I still like the USA in that matchup — there’s obviously a huge athleticism advantage for the USA. I’m not saying Spain should beat the USA, but at +1000, I think there’s value that they can beat the USA better than nine percent of the time.