The 2012 Olympic basketball tournament continues on Saturday with six critical games in the preliminary rounds. At this point, the group standings are starting to take shape, making these six games especially important. The top four teams in each group advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals, and everyone in Group B is trying to avoid fourth place and a date with Team USA.
Here's how we stand in each group right now.
- Team USA: 3-0, 6 points, +157 point differential.
- Argentina: 2-1, 5 points, +39 point differential.
- France: 2-1, 5 points, -12 point differential.
- Lithuania: 1-2, 4 points, -12 point differential.
- Nigeria: 1-2, 4 points, -98 point differential.
- Tunisia: 0-3, 3 points, -74 point differential
Even with Lithuania facing Team USA on Saturday, its spot in the medal round is fairly secure. Nigeria was throttled by Team USA on Thursday, ruining any hopes of beating Lithuania out on point differential. They must therefore defeat both France and Argentina to have a chance to get to fourth place. Lithuania, meanwhile, would only need to beat lowly Tunisia to secure its place in the medal round. Assuming that happens, Lithuania would likely face the winner of Saturday's Spain-Russia showdown in the quarterfinals.
The interesting battle will be for second place between France and Argentina. While France has the head-to-head victory, point differential is the ultimate tiebreaker, and Argentina is way ahead there. Argentina, however, still must face Team USA, so France should be able to close that gap. The second-place team would not have to face Team USA until the gold-medal game, so this is a battle worth watching.
- Russia: 3-0, 6 points, +40 point differential.
- Spain: 3-0, 6 points, +29 point differential.
- Brazil: 2-1, 5 points, +8 point differential.
- Australia: 1-2, 4 points, +4 point differential.
- Great Britain: 0-3, 3 points, -26 point differential.
- China: 0-3, 3 points, -55 point differential.
Saturday's showdown between Russia and Spain is massive. The winner has the upper hand for first place in the group and can therefore avoid Team USA until the gold-medal game. The loser must face either France or Argentina in the quarterfinals and likely take on Team USA in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, the game between Great Britain and Australia will likely decide Team USA's opponent in the quarterfinals. A win by Australia all but gives them the fourth spot. A win by Great Britain, though, would change things. Both teams would have five points before Monday's final game, but Great Britain faces lowly China, while Australia has to face Russia.
For more on the Olympics, check out SB Nation's London 2012 Olympics hub.