What Does Team USA Basketball Loss To Nigeria Mean To Gold Medal Odds?

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on July 12, 2021
usa loss to nigeria

On Saturday, Nigeria handed Team USA Basketball perhaps the most stunning defeat in the history of the program. They triumphed 90-87 in a pre-Olympic exhibition in Las Vegas. How did the market react to the Team USA loss to Nigeria?

We’ll explore how it happened and whether it means anything going forward for the Olympics.

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How Did Team USA Lose To Nigeria?

So, how did Team USA lose to Nigeria, a squad they had previously pounded to the tune of 156-73 at the 2012 London Games?

Before we dive in, a few caveats. First, this was only an exhibition game. The exhibitions are meant as tune-ups, chances for the national teams to get game reps before playing for medals in Tokyo. Second, three members of Team USA remain in contention in the NBA FinalsKhris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker have not joined the team.

Finally, this isn’t your older brother’s Nigeria team. This one features NBA players KZ Okpala, Precious Achiuwa, Gabe Vincent, Josh Okogie and Jahlil Okafor, though the latter didn’t play. Former top-10 pick Ekpe Udoh also played big minutes. Longtime NBA coach Mike Brown leads them.

So, they were expected to be more competitive than 83-point losers. But, how much more competitive? Well, FanDuel Sportsbook pegged them as +29.5 underdogs. They listed Team USA at -10000 (1-to-100) favorites on the money line.

All of that is to say, at the end of the day, this result was still a complete shocker. A Team USA squad featuring Kevin Durant, Brad Beal and Damian Lillard got outshot both from the floor and 3-point range.  A team with Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo got out-rebounded 46 to 34.

Even still, they went +19 from the line and won the turnover battle 14 to 7. Somehow, it wasn’t enough.

How Did The Market Respond?

Short answer: not much.

In late June, The Lines wrote about Team USA had been installed as early favorites of around -300 over the field.

Thus far, following the Team USA loss to Nigeria, the market has panicked and moved them all the way to…-400 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

The path to gold may have gotten a smidge clearer as Serbia and Lithuania, both among the top six in the futures market in June, failed to qualify. Here’s where the board sits at DraftKings with Team USA’s first game against France about two weeks away:


In the aftermath of the loss, Popovich said the team would “learn” and “figure it out.” Bettors laying -300 or higher as the market continues to favor the Americans will hope that turns out to be the case. Otherwise, this team could go down in infamy as the most talented American bunch to fail to bring home gold.

Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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