2020 Tokyo Olympics Picks & Predictions
Pickswise is the home of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics picks and betting previews. With the world’s best athletes showcasing their talents across 46 different sports throughout the 19-day competition, the Pickswise betting experts will be on hand to guide you through it all. The opening ceremony is set to take place on the 23rd of July 2021, with the Games’ closing ceremony set for August 8th, 2021 and we’ll have expert advice, including our daily Tokyo 2020 predictions and picks across multiple disciplines.
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Total Goals Pick
The USWNT was the -165 favorite for the women’s Olympic gold medal before the first round of games but a 3-0 loss to Sweden has left the American women bottom of their group and on a recovery mission against New Zealand in Saitama on Saturday morning. The loss was the US team’s first defeat in 44 games and their heaviest loss since 2007, but there’s no denying it arrived at a bad time. There was no argument with the result as the Swedes had more shots and more corners and US goalie Alyssa Naeher made a number of saves to keep the score down. Oddsmakers are confident the American team will bounce right back and they are -4000 to get the win but another tricky test awaits them.
New Zealand also lost its first game in the toughest group of the competition, but only by 2-1 against Australia. The Kiwi goalie, Erin Nayler, also impressed in game one, and both offences will need to be much sharper if this is to be a high-scoring game. The four opening games in Groups E and G all produced under 3.5 goals (Group F produced 18 goals in two routs!) and that could be the wager to have on this match too. These teams scored only one goal between them in their openers and goal spree seems unlikely.
Naomi Osaka vs. Zheng Saisai games spread Pick
Osaka has not played since withdrawing from the French Open prior to the second round. The 23-year-old announced at the start of the clay-court major that she would boycott speaking to the media. Facing backlash from such an announcement, Osaka decided to stop playing and focus on her mental health. She has not been heard from since—at least not on the tennis court. The world No. 2 has faced Zheng three times and not once has the spread been more than six games. Zheng is 1-2 in the head-to-head series overall, including 1-1 on hard courts. Given that Osaka will be rusty, a competitive contest is likely in the cards.
Dayana Yatsremska vs. Leylah Fernandez Pick
Speaking of rust, Yastremska was out for this entire year until she returned earlier this month on the red clay of Hamburg. Finally reinstated on the heels of a doping ban, the 46th-ranked Ukrainian has not played a match on a hard court since November of 2020. She at least managed to post a couple of wins in Hamburg, beating two opponents outside the top 100 before falling to world No. 198 Elena-Gabriela Ruse. None of that bodes well for her chances against Fernandez, who is only 18 years old but is already up to 72nd in the rankings. The Canadian has not lost to anyone outside the top 24 since May.
Parlay: Carreno Busta vs Sandgren, Sonego vs Daniel Pick
Carreno Busta may be thought of as a clay-court specialist because he is from Spain and has enjoyed some success on the red stuff. However, he is really an all-surface player and is actually at his best on hard courts. The world No. 11 is a two-time U.S. Open semifinalist and three of his six titles have come on the hard stuff. PCB just captured his biggest title last week in Hamburg, so he has a ton of momentum heading into Tokyo. Sandgren, on the other hand, is a disappointing 6-11 this season and has dropped to 81st in the world. The American kept playing on grass after Wimbledon (lost in the Newport second round), so Carreno Busta is not the only one making a surface transition.
Sonego vs. Daniel should also be one-way traffic. Ranked No. 26, Sonego is 21-14 at the ATP level in 2021 and he is coming off a fourth-round performance at Wimbledon. Daniel, the world No. 110, is only 4-8 on the main tour this season.
Without USA pick
The USA has been dominant on the Olympic stage, winning gold in each of the last three Olympic Games. However, it looks like this year may be more of a struggle than years past and we could potentially see a repeat of 2004, where the team had to settle for bronze. While the USA boasts superstar talents in Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum, they have not had a good warm-up to the tournament. For one, the team has already suffered two defeats to Nigeria and Australia. They have also been rocked by injuries, with Bradley Beal and Kevin Love pulling out and Zach LaVine and Jerami Grant’s preparations being disrupted by COVID-19. With Khris Middleton, Devin Booker, and Jrue Holiday arriving late due to their participation in the NBA Finals, coach Gregg Popovich may need to work a miracle on the fly to get this unit clicking. The USA is not a sure bet to win it all, despite what the odds may suggest.
Taking the USA out of the equation, Slovenia has a fantastic opportunity to make it to the final. One could argue that Luka Doncic is the best player at this tournament, especially offensively. And despite missing Goran Dragic, and boasting only one other NBA player in Denver Nuggets small forward Vlatko Cancar, this team knows how to win games. They are the reigning European champions from 2017, and Doncic has improved leaps and bounds since then. Around him, Slovenia has exceptional shooting, with the team making 46 percent of their shots from deep in their four Olympic qualifying games this summer. While they lack size on the interior, no team in the tournament has the players to truly punish them in this area. The Gasol brothers are a long way past their prime while big men Rudy Gobert and Bam Adebayo are not known for scoring from the low block. With their high tempo, terrific shooting, and the double teams that Doncic is bound to draw, do not be surprised to see this Slovenia team win gold, especially with the troubles the USA has had in friendlies defending the deep ball.
Without USA pick
Nigeria is the first team from Africa to beat the USA, having picked up a 90-87 win in Las Vegas recently. That should not come as much of a surprise as outside of the USA, Nigeria boasts the most NBA players at the tournament. They have Gabe Vincent of the Miami Heat, who gives them great outside shooting, and Jahlil Okafor of the Detroit Pistons should be well suited to the international game and can do damage on the inside. Forwards Josh Okogie, Precious Achiuwa, and Chimezie Metu of the Sacramento Kings give this team phenomenal defensive potential, especially with Mike Brown at the helm of the team.
Nigeria managed to beat Argentina, which is ranked fourth in the world, in the warm-ups too, so their win over the USA was clearly no fluke. Do not be surprised if this group makes history once more and becomes the first African team to pick up a medal at the Games, with a trip to the final not out of the question.
Frances Tiafoe vs. Soonwoo Kwon Pick
Perhaps no American enjoys the team atmosphere more than Tiafoe. The guy just loves flying the flag for the United States, especially in the Davis Cup but even if it’s just during his own individual tournaments on the main tour. This is Tiafoe’s first Olympics, and he has plenty of momentum heading into it following a third-round performance at Wimbledon. The 23-year-old’s grass-court swing also included a Challenger title in Nottingham and a quarterfinal finish at Queen’s Club. Kwon, on the other hand, is struggling down at No. 71 in the world (18 spots behind Tiafoe). The South Korean is just 1-4 on hard courts in 2021, which also does not bode well for his chances in Tokyo.
Mikhail Kukushkin vs. Federico Coria Pick
The only times you will ever see Coria on a hard court are for a Grand Slam (the Australian Open and U.S. Open) and the Olympics. Other than that, the Argentine spends basically of his time on clay. Throughout his 10 years on the professional circuit, an unbelievable 442 of Coria’s 451 career match victories have come on clay. Moreover, the world No. 62 just finished runner-up in Bastad this past week and therefore will be making a very quick turnaround in addition to a surface change. There is a very real chance that Coria would not beat anyone in this entire field of 64. Kukushkin has not been playing great, but has always been at his best on hard courts. The Kazakh has every reason to win this one with ease—even if he doesn’t play particularly well.
Parlay: Tomljanovic vs Shvedova and Schwartzman vs Varillas Pick
Tomljanovic is coming off a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon, so she is brimming with confidence. Even better news for the Australian is that her first-round opponent is someone who retired in 2017 and has not played much at all despite returning to the tour in 2020. In fact, Shvedova has played only 12 total matches since the start of 2018. The 33-year-old Russian has won just two of those matches, and her only win on hard courts during this stretch has come at the expense of an opponent ranked outside the top 100. Tomljanovic should win this one in less than an hour.
As for Schwartzman, I have him winning the bronze medal in this event. If the Argentine falls short, it won’t be because of Varillas. JPV has won just a single hard-court match over the last two seasons. The Peruvian is ranked 122nd in the world, 109 places behind his opponent. Schwartzman two most recent results are the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the third round at Wimbledon. This is going to be a beatdown.
Ashleigh Barty at +600 is a reasonable price. When healthy, the reigning Wimbledon champion is far and away the best player on tour right now. By comparison, co-favorite Naomi Osaka, representing host nation Japan, should be avoided like the absolute plague given her well-documented off-the-court issues.
Although Barty is a good bet, there is otherwise a ton of parity on the women’s tour and a longshot play in Tokyo would not be a bad idea. Barbora Krejcikova (+1800) won the French Open, played well at Wimbledon, and is coming off another title last week in Prague. Check the draw first, but if she stays away from Barty then Krejcikova becomes a strong play.
Novak Djokovic is a solid bet at -140 and would arguably be playable around -160 or so. The world No. 1 just took care of business at Wimbledon after beginning the tournament at minus money. He is simply dominant right now, to the extent that he is still in contention for the calendar-year Golden Slam (winning all four Grand Slams and the Olympics). Djokovic has already lifted trophies at the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon. The Serb had a few tough matches in Melbourne and Paris, but he pretty much made a mockery of the All-England Club proceedings.
Djokovic was one of the first tennis players to contract Covid-19 last summer and chances are good he won’t get it again. It’s hard to see him being ousted from this tournament fair and square by any opponent.
If you do want to look at an underdog, I would wait until the draw comes out on Thursday and take a gamble on someone who is on the opposite side of the bracket from Djokovic. The odds on Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev are probably too small, but Andrey Rublev at +1100 or Felix Auger-Aliassime at +2500 would be intriguing if they avoid Djokovic in the draw.
Even with a field much less impressive than major tournaments (mainly because the United States can put only four players in the Olympics even though they boast an unbelievable 14 of the top 19 players in the current world rankings), I’m still not touching Jon Rahm when he is as low as +500. The world No. 1 still has to compete with the likes of Americans Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, and Bryson DeChambeau in addition to Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.
All four members of Team USA are enticing, but it may be too much too soon for Morikawa and the games of Thomas and DeChambeau are not in the kind of shape that Schauffele is currently putting forth. Schauffele at +1000 would be my choice.
As a longshot, I like Paul Casey (+2200), Cameron Smith (+2900), and most of all Corey Conners at +3100. Conners has made 11 of his last 12 cuts and he finished an impressive T15 at the British Open even though he is a links golf novice.
I’ve got to go with the chalk here. Japan hasn’t won gold in Olympic baseball before, and everything is shaping up perfectly for them here. They’ve got more MLB quality players than Team USA does, and the fact that these games are being played in Japan certainly doesn’t hurt. The emotional narrative is there. Japan’s professional league, the NPB, has also paused their season to let players participate.
Former Yankees star Masahiro Tankaa will be pitching, as will Tomoyuki Sugano, who will become very familiar to American baseball fans soon enough when he comes stateside shortly. The competition is weak, and Japan is the favorite for a reason. They most recently won the Premier 12 tournament in 2019, and getting any plus-money at all is decent value. Don’t overthink this one.
The Dominican Republic has the second-highest odds outside of Israel, but they shouldn’t. They are being written off because they barely snuck into the Olympics, but they also have a lot of momentum. The Dominicans became the last team to qualify after running through the final qualifier in June. They’re hot right now, and have some notable bats with guys like Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera playing. Julio Rodriguez, a 20-year-old outfielder who is one of the top prospects in minor league baseball with the Mariners, is also playing. They’ve got confidence, upside, and low expectations. Don’t be surprised if they make some noise.