Team USA Basketball Loss To France: How The Odds Reacted

Written By Brett Gibbons on July 25, 2021
usa basketball loss

Maybe we shouldn’t have dismissed Team USA’s exhibition losses so quickly. Now, it’s an Olympic opening defeat. The USA basketball loss to France has now eliminated any margin for error for the gold medal.

Evan Fournier and the French National Team upended Team USA 83-76 in a historic loss that put an end to the United States’ 25-game Olympic win streak that dates back to 2004.

The last time the Americans lost an Olympic basketball match Apple had not released the iPhone, the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Harry Potter franchise were not yet finished, and Steve Nash won that year’s NBA MVP award. This loss is nothing short of historic.

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But Really– How Historic Is This Loss?

1992 marked the year that professional basketball players were allowed to participate in Olympic basketball. Since then, Team USA has a 153-9 record (54-2 in exhibition games)– a 94.4% win percentage. They’ve won six of seven gold medals at the Olympics (exception being 2004) and have won by an average margin of 32.3 points per game along the way.

In short, Team USA has been nothing short of dominant throughout their run with professional players.

Celtics guard Evan Fournier scored 28 en route to the French win, while Kevin Durant fouled out in the final seconds. To make matters worse, the United States was in control of the game, leading 74-67 with just minutes remaining in the game. France went on an incredible 16-2 run and sealed the game with free throws.

Following the Team USA basketball loss to France on July 25, DraftKings Sportsbook dropped their odds to win gold from -425 to -225. France (+1600 before the match) jumped up to +1000.

It’s not a great start to the Gregg Popovich era, following up an undefeated Olympics stint by retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Despite Losses, Sportsbooks Never Faltered

Even after exhibition losses to Nigeria and Australia, Team USA was a huge -425 favorite to win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Now, it counts. After the USA basketball loss to France, doubts are starting to come in about the American’s chances to win.

Now, Team USA has plummeted to -225 odds– still heavy favorites with an implied probability of 69.2% but not quite the same Goliath as they were before the loss. -425 had implied a 81% chance to win gold.

Most analysts and outlets passed the exhibition losses off as a fluke, that Team USA wasn’t playing urgently, and that they’d “flip the switch” as soon as Olympic play began.

However, The Athletic‘s Joe Vardon called the team’s bluff following the Australia loss. “The cold hard facts are the Americans, regardless of who is on their roster, stink under Gregg Popovich, certainly by Team USA’s lofty standards,” he writes. He also pointed out that Team USA is a paltry 9-5 (now 10-6) since Popovich overtook the coaching duties.

Since oddsmakers stayed steady on the United States (likely for good reason– tilting too hard away from the United States could have seriously cost them), sportsbooks could profit handsomely if handle on Team USA was lopsided and the Americans lose again .

What Does The Team USA Loss Mean Moving Forward?

Many see the drop in odds as an opportunity to get basketball’s leading nation at a better value and pocket some cash along the way. However, with a 1-3 record in international play this summer, some may consider it time to fade the United States.

As Vardon mentioned, Team USA is not the same dominant force under Gregg Popovich as they were under previous coaches Mike Krzyzewski, Rudy Tomjanovich, Lenny Wilkens, and Chuck Daly.

The U.S. is still a heavy 36.5-point favorite in their next match against Iran at DraftKings. While France rosters NBA superstar Rudy Gobert and other notable players like Fournier and Nicolas Batum, Iran has no NBA players on their roster. The following opponent– the Czech Republic– has just one active NBA player (Chicago Bulls guard Tomáš Satoranský) and the U.S. is a 21.5-point favorite in that one.

Barring a serious implosion, Team USA should make it to the elimination stage. The three group winners and the top second-place team will be paired randomly with the other teams that reach the knockout rounds.

Does the USA basketball loss to France now mean fade the stars and stripes for gold? That’s up for you to decide.

Brett Gibbons Avatar
Written by
Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons