Bells have rung out across the UK as the final countdown to the start of the 2012 Olympics began. The 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday night, July 27, and the world will watch as the greatest athletes on the planet battle for the gold.
The Olympics schedule for men's basketball in the London Games includes five first round games for the U.S., including matchups against France and Argentina.
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant led Team USA, aptly dubbed the "Redeem Team," to the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, which means they once again have enormous targets on their back.
The 2012 version of the Team USA is loaded with talent. Three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant and his teammate Russell Westbrook add supreme athleticism to the backcourt, while rebounding machine Kevin Love and this year's Defensive Player of the year Tyson Chandler will man the painted area.
The team went 5-0 in exhibition play, and although they were threatened by Brazil and Argentina, they were never truly in a position to lose. To end their Olympic tune-up, they dominated a gifted Spanish team 100-78.
Here is a look at the schedule for the 2012 Olympics basketball group-stage games for Team USA:
July 29, 9:30 a.m. ET - Team USA gets its toughest challenge in the first game of the group-stage matchups. France comes into the game with Tony Parker, one of the NBA's greatest stars. Parker teams with four other NBA players and fields the best team in the Olympics Games outside of the U.S. and Spain. They finished second in the EuroBasket qualifying tournament and will make things tough on the U.S. in this opener.
July 31, 5:15 p.m. ET - The next game on the Olympics schedule pits Team USA against Tunisia. The African country brings little in the way of major talent to the game but they do have a 7-0 center named Salah Mejri in the lineup.
August 2, 5:15 p.m. ET - Nigeria is the next opponent for Team USA and they have three NBA players on the roster, including 6-9 Al-Farouq Aminu. With Team USA playing small through the entire Summer Olympic Games, this won't make things easy for the U.S.
August 4, 9:30 a.m. ET - NBA players Jonas Valanciunas and Linas Kleiza compete for Lithuania in the fourth game for Team USA in the games. Lithuania also has a couple of local stars that will make this a game the U.S. won't want to overlook.
August 6, 5:15 p.m. ET - As long as Team USA gets by France, they should stay undefeated until this game with Argentina. The U.S. played Argentina in one of their exhibition games and squeaked away with an 86-80 win, not a shining example of the country's strong play. With Manu Ginobili playing for Argentina, this will be a very tough game for the United States to get by.
Team USA is as close to win the gold as you can get. Upsets happen, and that's why the games are played, but if the U.S. plays as it should, the games shouldn't even be close.