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Team USA Basketball: Tanking To Avoid Americans Is Possible

One of the big stories of the Olympics was the expulsion of eight women's badminton players for trying to throw matches in group play in order to set up a better draw for themselves in the knockout round.

As Steve Perrin points out on SB Nation, a similar dynamic may end up playing out in men's basketball, as teams in Group B try to avoid Team USA as long as possible:

As it happens, the Olympic men's basketball tournament is another perfect storm and has a potential nightmare scenario looming for the final day of pool play. If Russia goes undefeated in Group B (a distinct possibility given the way it has looked so far) then in all likelihood the game between Spain and Brazil Monday night will determine the second and third seeds in Group B, with the winner finishing second (B2) and the loser finishing third (B3). The format of the knockout stage places B2 on the same side of the bracket as the first place team in Group A (A1), aka Team USA, while B3 goes into the other side of the bracket.

Russia pulled out a dramatic last-second victory over Brazil on Thursday, making Perrin's hypothetical all the more realistic headed into the weekend.

For Brazil and Spain, playing the Russians in the semifinals instead of the Americans could be the difference between silver and not receiving a medal at all.

And while we are unlikely to see anything as blatant as what happened in badminton, the chances are very good that the Spanish will be "resting" injured players like Marc Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro against Brazil if they end up losing to Russia in Group B play later in the week.

Read more of our Team USA coverage at this StoryStream. Be sure to check out SB Nation Kansas City as well. Also visit SB Nation's Olympic hub for even more coverage.