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Daily Briefing, Aug. 11

How does NBC spell ratings? Two words: Michael Phelps. The Golden Boy takes to Water Cube on Tuesday for the men's 200 freestyle final (10:16 p.m. ET on Monday night). "Coming into the competition, I thought that would be one of his easier races," said Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneuve, who predicts -- surprise! -- gold for Phelps in the event.

Other swimming finals at the pool:

• The men's 100 backstroke (10:23 p.m.), and women's 100 backstroke (10:54 p.m.) and breaststroke (10:48 p.m.). U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin remains the favorite in the 100 backstroke but Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe set a new world record (58.77) in the semifinals on Monday, breaking the former world record held by Coughlin. The two finished 1-2 at the Athens Games in 2004.

• Australia's Leisel Jones is a big favorite in the 100 breaststroke final, though U.S. swimmer Rebecca Soni could medal. (Former world record holder JessicaHardy tested positive for a banned substance at the U.S. Olympic Trials and is not competing in the Games). Backstroke king Aaron Piersol should add to the U.S. gold medal count in the 100.

• Away from the pool, defending gold medalist Misty May-Treanor and KerriWalsh take on Cuba's DalixiaFernández and TamaraLarrea in beach volleyball at 9 p.m. China and Japan are the favorites in the men's team gymnastics final at National Indoor Stadium one hour later. In the lock of the day, the U.S. women's softball team opens with Venezuela (midnight, Tuesday) at Fengtai Sports Center Softball Field.

• As night falls on Beijing, U.S. flyweight Rau'shee Warren, the '07 world champion, will compete in his first bout at 7 a.m. Warren is the first U.S. boxer since Davey Lee Armstrong (1972 and '76) to compete in two Olympics.

• In the evening swimming session, all eyes will be on U.S. swimmer Eric Shanteau, a 24-year-old from Lilburn, Ga., who will swim in the sixth heat of the men's 200-meter breaststroke (start time: 7:44 a.m. ET on Tuesday). Shanteau was told by his doctors a week before the U.S. trials that he had testicular cancer. They cleared him to swim at the trials, where he unexpectedly made the team, edging close friend, Brendan Hansen for second place in the 200-meter breaststroke.

• The U.S. women's soccer team can advance to the quarterfinals with a win over New Zealand (7:45 a.m., Tuesday). The team is currently in second in Group G, three points behind Norway. The U.S. men's basketball team (1-0) continues preliminary play (8 a.m.) with what should be an easy win over Angola.

"I can't tell you how many [text messages] I got today. A few of them were vulgar but they were funny. It was pretty cool. I got like 100 text messages."-- Phelps, asked after his 200 butterfly prelim about the reaction to the U.S. team's pulsating win in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

"I think I shot well in this match. My teammates could have shot better."-- Malaysian archer Wan Khalmizam, after his team lost to Italy.

Longtime rivals Tony Estanguet (gold medalist in Athens and Sydney) of France and Slovakia's Michal Martikan (a six-time world champion and gold medalist in Atlanta) meet in the Men's C1 Canoe Singles slalom final (4:27 p.m. ET) at Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. SI picks Estanguet over Martikan for the gold.

SI staffers weigh in on the television coverage and hot button issues surrounding the Games.

• We're watching! We're really watching! NBC is reporting a 22 percent uptick in TV ratings for these Olympics over the '04 Athens Games. SI's DickFriedman explores four reasons why we're tuning in.

• The truth is that President Bush's visit to China wasn't just about his being a fan, and he understood that. He knew he would be expected to further talks with China's authoritarian regime about its stance on human rights, press and religious freedom, etc. And so, it shouldn't have come as a surprise (to him or any of us) that Bob Costas threw down last night in a live interview with the President. To read more of Sarah Kwak's take on Bush and the interview, go here.

1. Band of brothers (by Sally Jenkins, TheWashington Post). "Put these men's names down alongside astronaut crews and hockey teams for giving Americans the sweet glow of victory: Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones, Jason Lezak," says the Post's Jenkins.

2. Adlington wins overdue gold (by Derek Parr, Reuters). Pool Britianana! Rebecca Adlington captures Great Britain's first Olympic swimming gold by a woman since Anita Lonsbrough won the 200 breaststroke 48 years ago in Rome.

3. Excess Baggage: What you can't take to the Olympics (by Oliver Robinson and Paul Pennay, TheBeijinger.com). Leave the Rollerblades (among other things) at home if you're planning on a seat at the Olympics.

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