Pedal to the medal: Previewing the quarterfinals
And, if the Americans didn't already know, they were reminded that David Andersen is a champion (for CSKA Moscow, which won the Euroleague title earlier this summer), Brad Newley is dangerous (he's shooting 65 percent in the Olympics, averaging 13.2 points), and C.J. Bruton (whose assist-to-turnover ratio is 6.0) is an Australian version of Jose Calderon.
But none of the Americans needed a reminder that Patrick Mills is faster than all of them, even Chris Paul. Team USA has fresh memories of when Mills twice beat Paul downcourt -- while dribbling, no less -- during its exhibition match against the Aussies two weeks ago.
"There has been a lot of preparation," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "A coach never feels you are as good as you can be, but we're close, and it's important for us just to focus on this moment, and that's what I'm trying to get across to the guys. And Australia is that moment, not anybody else."
So let's take a cue from Coach K and focus on one game at a time -- and we'll do it four times as we preview Wednesday's four quarterfinal matchups in the men's Olympic basketball tournament:
United States vs. Australia (8 a.m. ET)
A team with nothing to lose against a team with everything to lose. Australia has been clicking its past three games. The Aussies scored 106 points against Iran, 95 against Russia in a do-or-die game and 106 against Lithuania in the final game of the opening round.
Andrew Bogut has been outstanding. He's shooting 62 percent overall and 71 percent from behind the 3-point line, and he's averaging 14.4 points. C.J. Bruton is the starting point guard, but the Americans expect the Aussies to use two ball handlers at once, pairing Bruton with speedster Mills to reduce turnovers and take away the open-court opportunities on which the Americans thrive.
Team USA's leading scorer, Dwyane Wade (16.2 ppg), has come off the bench and is tied for the team lead in steals (12) with LeBron James and Paul. The Americans have averaged 103 points and have forced 114 turnovers in five games, but they've struggled at times from 3-point range (36 percent for the tournament) and at the foul line (67 percent).
Spain vs. Croatia (2:30 a.m. ET)
When the teams met last summer in Madrid, Spain was stunned 85-84 in an opening-round game on its home turf.
"They have five or six NBA players, but we beat them in the last European championship, so we believe we can do it again -- especially because they are not playing that well," Croatia's Marko Popovic said.
In these Olympics, Croatia has been the best 3-point-shooting team (47.5 percent). However, two key players are injured -- Popovic has a torn tendon in his foot and is not expected to play, while Zoran Planinic has a hip problem and is listed as a game-time decision.
Spain is clearly the more-talented team and has a big edge in frontcourt scoring, led by Pau Gasol, but Croatia is younger.
"Young people have too much confidence, and it is difficult for them to be realistic," Croatia coach Jasmin Repesa said. "But the best thing about young people is they never give up."
Lithuania vs. China (4:45 a.m. ET)
China will be well-versed in the tendencies of the Lithuanians because China's coach is Lithuanian.
"I don't think, for me, [coaching against his countrymen] will be psychological, because I did it before in 2004" said Jonas Kazlauskas, who was an assistant coach for Team China under Del Harris.
Lithuania was on a roll before losing by 31 points to Australia in its final preliminary-round match, although nothing was at stake because the Lithuanians had already wrapped up first place in Group A.
Expect Lithuania to do what every other good team has done against China: Pressure the ball in the backcourt, forcing the Chinese to turn over the ball -- or at least make them expend valuable time before getting into their half-court sets, where Option A always will be feeding the ball to Yao Ming (19.0 ppg) in the low post.
Argentina vs. Greece (10:15 a.m. ET)
Greece has the second-highest field-goal percentage in the tournament (51.3 percent), led by shooting guard Vassilis Spanoulis (15.4 ppg, 54.5 percent), while Argentina has committed the fewest turnovers (12.8) and has two players ranked in the top three in scoring, Manu Ginobili (19.6) and Luis Scola (19.2).
The Greeks usually are successful at dictating the tempo of the game. The Argentineans' ball movement is second to none, and -- like the Americans -- they've improved each game.
Greece has the deeper team. Argentina is defending the gold medal it won in Athens four years ago.
"They have a lot of experience, maybe more than us," Argentina's Fabricio Oberto said of the Greeks. "When you have all that experience, you feel you can overcome anything."
Chris Sheridan is an ESPN.com Insider. He has covered the U.S. senior national team since the 1996 Olympics. To e-mail Chris, click here.
MORE OLYMPICS HEADLINES
- Durant, USA pull away from Spain to win gold
- Clippers' Paul has successful surgery on thumb
- Schmitt back to school after Olympic stardom
- Olympian Raisman, Poland Spring sign deal
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Team USA: Redemption In Beijing
Team USA won the Olympic gold medal in men's basketball after years of frustration.
Roster | Schedule | TV | Scores | Standings
The Redeem TeamSheridan: 1992 vs. 2008
They redeemed U.S. hoops and reclaimed Olympic gold. So, how does the '08 team stack up to the Dream Team? Chris Sheridan
• Sheridan: Dream scene
TrueHoop: What next?
Team USA was great in '08. But how will it remain on top of the world? We've got the plan (with a few new faces) moving forward. TrueHoop
• TrueHoop: Day of redemption
Jackson: Truly redeemed?
Yes, the U.S. men's basketball team recaptured the Olympic gold in Beijing. But did they really accomplish their mission? Depends how you look at it. Scoop Jackson
Hollinger: International flair
Team USA got the gold, but the game of basketball was also a big winner. Here's a look at how the NBA's international stars fared in the Beijing Olympics. John Hollinger
Medal Round• Sheridan: United statement
• Forde: Coach K deserves praise
• Hill: Rooting for redemption
• Sheridan: USA gets revenge vs. Argentina
• Sheridan: US-Argentina rivalry renewed
• Sheridan: Dispelling two Team USA myths
• Sheridan: One down, two to go
• Sheridan: Quarterfinals roundup
• Sheridan: A whole new ballgame
• Sheridan: Previewing the quarterfinals
• Sheridan: Australia won't be scared
Preliminary Round• Day 5: Greece earns date with Argentina
• Sheridan: Kaman suits up for Germany
• Sheridan: Unchallenged by Spain in 37-point win
• Bucher: Unselfishness sets Team USA apart
• Day 4: Aussies, China clinch medal-round berths
• Watch: Coach K and the challenge of Team USA
• Sheridan: Spain's strengths pose challenge
• Mag: Rubio is Spain's teen phenom
• Sheridan: Winning Grecian formula for Team USA
• Broussard: Wade back in elite conversation
• Day 3: Lithuania, Spain remain undefeated
• Sheridan: Team USA's Greek strategy
• Sheridan: Angola was easy, Greece won't be
• Day 2: China almost upsets Spain; Croatia rolls
• Forde: U.S.-China game had historic feel
• Sheridan: Yi struggles against Team USA
• Day 1 roundup: Argentina upset
• Israeli, Iranian share embrace
TrueHoop• Chris Bosh on Olympic intensity
• The Next Team USA
• Suddenly, Team USA looks enormous
• Spain's joke not funny
• The other Redeem Team: Spain
• Dream Team not the model
• Yao Ming is no Kobe Bryant
• Team USA's Chinese fans
• Is Team USA muzzled or not?
Olympic Preview• Sheridan: 10 questions for opening round
• Sheridan: Who will grab gold?
• Sheridan: Argentina, Russia headline Group A
• Sheridan: USA, Spain tops in Group B
• Jackson: Something's missing on USA's roster
• Kobe & Co. arrive to heroes' welcome in Beijing
• Ford: Top int'l draft prospects at Olympics
• Watch: Best internationals in action