JCB Rule: You must prove your patriotism by betting on TEAM USA #1 every Olympiad. The -400 price on overall medal winner, and even the -200 on most gold medals, are both too expensive to play on principle. So like we did with Team Great Britian yesterday, we’re focusing on the over/under for totals golds. And even though the total feels a bit too high, we’ll pick with our patriotric heart on this one and go Over 38.5 golds for Team USA.
First, a bit about why that number is probably too high. Only twice in the last 42 years have the Americans exceeded this number and both times were on home soil: the 44 golds in the 1996 games and the absurd 83 golds in the Soviet-boycotted ’84 contests. The last three Summer Olympiads have seen the following Red, White and Blue totals: 36-35-37. So to call for 39 golds is to call for a personal foregin soil best at least in my lifetime. But we’re undaunted. The State of Team USA is strong. We’re they are good, they are elite.
The Americans will dominate the pool. They could earn a third of this required total alone. Let’s go out on a big limb: America will pull in golds in any individual event Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte swim in. That’s a six-pack right there. Matt Grevers should win his backstroke race. Cullen Jones could win his freestyle race. And its a good bet that at least two of the three relay teams will swim to gold. The women’s team didnt have the most noteable games in Beijing, but expect a better outcome this go around. They bring a superstar in Missy Franklin whose destined for a gold somewhere. Rebecca Soni, the teams only gold four years ago, returns, is in peak form and ought to win at least one of her swims, and I feel pretty good that this year the Yanks will win at least one relay. Dana Volmer, Elizabeth Beisel and Allison Schmitt are all race favorites. If everything breaks just right, the women could match the men’s obscene gold count. Regardless, Team USA will blow everyone out of the water throughout the meet.
Since owning the 1996 Atlanta games on the track with 13 golds in Athletics (thats the formal name for Track and Field people. Please keep up), Team USA has still been the country with the most golds in the sports, but the bounty hasnt even been close to as plentiful. But, give them credit for consistency. Team USA has won exactly seven Track and Field golds in three straight Olympiads. They should at least equal that and, hopefully, with a little luck add one or two more along the way. On the womens side, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross and Brittney Reese are favored to win their individual events. Felix is -200 to win gold in the 200 meters, Richards-Ross is -160 in the 400 and Reese is -135 in the long jump. Both the 4×100 and 4×400 relays are expected to contend for gold. Both are betting favorites with the Americans -135 in the 4×400 and -125 in the 4×100, the latter line despite the problems the Yanks have had with exchanges in this event the last two Olympics. On the mens side, Team USA is favored in the 400 meters (LaShawn Merritt, -125), decathlon (Ashton Eaton, no odds yet, but he is the world record holder), triple jump (Christian Taylor, +135), shot put (Reese Hoffa +225) and the 4×400 relay (-800!!!). Between both sides, lets just be safe, book a repeat of the last three Olympics and call for seven total golds. Between swimming and track, we’ve put 20 already in the book. More than half way there. Lets find another 19 golds somewhere.
Team sports will be another meal ticket for Team USA, paced by a double gold in basketball. Looking for an offbeat Olympic play? Give a whirl at the over/under 25.5 average margin of victory for the men’s basketball team. The hoop wins will be repeated by the women’s soccer team, the dominant womens indoor volleyball team, and one beach volleyball duo.
Gymnastics will add as much as team sports to this bounty. Jordan Wieber and Gabby Douglas will lead the way as USA wins the womens team and individual goals. With such a deep team, they lady acrobats should add at least one more gold in the individual disciplne events. The men are contenders, but clear underdogs in their meet. But I am caught up in Five Ring Fever. Somehow, they cobble out a gold somewhere in the seven events. In tennis, Serena Williams alone should get USA two, if not three golds. Mens Doubles sees the Americans as chalk with the Bob Bryan and Michael Bryan tandem. We’re counting for three total here. Between swimming, track, team sports, gymnastics and tennis, the Americans are good for 32 gold medals. Can Team USA get seven more in the array of other athletics going on? Yes. Here’s a sampling of from just where:
There’s the rowing Women’s Eights, which are -400 favorites to win their race. Brady Ellison is primed to become one of the game’s biggest media stars and is one in a crowd men’s archery field where gold is anybody’s ballgame. Shooting should see Joshua Richmond and Kimberly Rhodes earn gold. Mariel Zagunis is top dog in her sabre disciplne and leads a US fencing team that feels if it brings its A-game it could bring home multiple golds. Sailing’s Anna Tunnicliffe’s boat should be in the running in the fixed keel, match race. Can Steven Lopez go gold in his quest to become Taekwondo’s first four-time medalist? The United States has medal contenders in seven wrestling events and should mine at least one gold with the most likely candidate being Nebraska Cornhusker Jordan Burroughs.
Its going to be tight. I am assuming (hoping, really) that Team USA can steal a gold or two or three from unexpected spots that none of us are talking about right now. The margin of error is thin based on my outline, but let me throw something out there. The Sports Illustrated medal projections call for 25 total golds between swimming and track, with 16 in the pool and 9 on the track. We’re only calling for 20 out of those two sports and still are scratching out a viable road map to 39 golds. Here’s hoping the swim and track events match closer to SI’s projections than ours. If so, we’ll cruise to this over.
USA # 1!!! Book It!!!