Tokyo Olympics: Women's basketball preview
The U.S. women's basketball team hasn't lost a game at the Olympics since 1992, winning six consecutive gold medals and eight of the 11 awarded since the sport made its Olympic debut in 1976. Can the Americans make it seven straight, or will another team beat the odds as a massive underdog?
Here are the odds and history of this event, as well as a breakdown of the field.
Odds to win gold
The last time Team USA lost a game at the Olympics, Breanna Stewart wasn't born yet. That's how dominant the Americans have been over the better part of three decades, most recently outscoring their opponents by nearly 40 points per game to capture their sixth consecutive gold at the 2016 Olympics.
The roster is as loaded as ever this year, led by Stewart and reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson, who makes her Olympic debut for a U.S. frontcourt that should overwhelm the competition. Joining them are decorated backcourt stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, who are both making their fifth and potentially final Olympic appearance after winning gold in each of their last four trips.
This year's field might have been more interesting if star center Liz Cambage - a four-time WNBA All-Star and former MVP runner-up - hadn't withdrawn from the Australian team last week. The Opals are still chock-full of WNBA talent and sit No. 2 in FIBA's global rankings, though; their stunning upset of the Americans in exhibition play Friday could be a glimpse of what's ahead.
France has the third-shortest odds in the field, but Spain is the world's third-ranked team and won silver in 2016. The Spaniards didn't look sharp at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket in June and only have two WNBA players on their roster, but they've shown they're capable of medaling.
The dark horse in this competition could be Serbia, which ranks No. 8 in the world and went undefeated to win the EuroBasket title. The Serbians face a favorable draw in Pool A and are priced longer than some of their less proven counterparts. Bettors should keep an eye on Sonja Vasic, who earned MVP honors in the EuroBasket tournament and played a key role in Serbia's bronze-medal run in 2016.