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USA vs. World: Final Score and MVP Predictions for 2015 Rising Stars Challenge

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 12 Feb 2015

Basketball fans wont have to wait until the next Olympics or world championships to feel a little patriotic, as this seasons Rising Stars Challenge will pit rookies and second-year players from the United States against rookies and second-year players from around the world.While the nationalism may inspire a bit more urgency in terms of who wins and loses, All-Star Games are often more about who can take home the MVP trophy than which team scores more points.Whats more, winning the MVP in the Rising Stars Challenge puts your name alongside those of past winners such as Kevin Durant, Allen Iverson, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony and John Wall. Thats not bad company to keep.With that in mind, here is a look at the important information and predictions for the final score and MVP winner of the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge.BBVA Compass Rising Stars ChallengeMatchup:USA vs. WorldDate:Friday, Feb. 13Time:9 p.m. ETWhere:Barclays Center; Brooklyn, New YorkTV:TNTRostersScore PredictionDefense is usually optional in the first three quarters of this game, and fans will be treated to a display of alley-oops, dunks and three-point shooting. It will be basketballs version of batting practice where fans only want to see spectacular home runs, and the final score will naturally be something out of a video game.However, the game will become more intense in the fourth quarter, especially with national pride on the line.Ultimately, the group that the world roster puts on the floor in the final minutes will be too much for the United States squad to handle down the stretch.Big man Rudy Gobert can dominate the boards and swat shots in the paint, point guard Dennis Schroder can run the show with his game-changing speed and impressive court vision, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the athletic freak who can rack up double-doubles in his sleep, and Andrew Wiggins is arguably the brightest star in this game who will make the winning plays in crunch time.The world team could even throw Nikola Mirotic on the wing as a sharp-shooting forward to stretch the defense and space the floor when Wiggins is attacking the basket or Antetokounmpo is making plays in the frontcourt.That fivesome can do a little bit of everything, and they will come up with the critical plays when the game is on the line.Prediction: World 137, United States 130MVP PredictionGiven that the world team is going to win the game, the MVP usually comes from its side.Any of those five players mentioned above could theoretically win it. It is not that difficult to envision Schroder racking up double-digit assists and taking home the trophy, Mirotic drilling a game-clinching three in the corner and winning it, or Antetokounmpo ending up with a ridiculous stat line that is simply too hard to ignore (something like 21 points and 15 rebounds).However, it will be Wiggins who ultimately takes home the MVP trophy.It is not just that Wiggins is a multidimensional athlete who could theoretically take this Rising Stars Challenge over at any time that makes him the leading MVP candidate. It is that he is playing at a higher level now than he was at the beginning of the year and continues to show improvement as he hits his stride in the NBA.Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News suggested as much:Wiggins scored in double figures in 25 of his past 26 games heading into Wednesdays showdown with the Golden State Warriors, and he topped 20 points in 12 of those contests. Wiggins is also contributing on the boards (six rebounds a game in February) and is a versatile defender who can stick guards or forwards.Wiggins even earned some praise from Kobe Bryant earlier in the season, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com:Yeah, it was a strange feeling, because I remember being Andrew Wiggins. I remember playing against Michael my first year. To be here tonight and to play against him, seeing the baby face and the little footwork or little technique things that hes going to be much sharper at as time goes on -- it was like looking at a reflection of myself 19 years ago. It was pretty cool.While the praise is nice, Wiggins will see this Rising Stars Challenge as an opportunity to show off his skills to fans who dont necessarily tune in to see the Minnesota Timberwolves on a nightly basis.He will make the critical plays down the stretch on the offensive side and use his athleticism and versatility on defense in the closing possessions to ensure a victory for the world roster.The days where Wiggins is playing in the actual All-Star Game are not that far away, but for now, he will have to settle for dominating the Rising Stars Challenge.Follow me on Twitter:Follow @ScottPolacek
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