Al Horford and Joakim Noah wanted to soak in the glory.

Horford, Noah, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green -- the foursome who arrived together at Florida as freshmen and led the Gators to two consecutive national titles -- had just returned to Gainesville after the second championship, won at the Georgia Dome in 2007. They piled into Green's Chevy Impala for an impromptu victory parade.

One small problem. No one seemed to notice the four oversized young men rolling through campus.

"It wasn't always like that, trust me," said Noah, laughing at the memory. "We just wanted to go back to school and get some love, and everybody was too busy for us."

On Wednesday night at Philips Arena, they'll pay a little closer attention. Horford and Noah, two of the NBA's top young centers, will resume a feverish competition that began seven years ago on Florida's practice courts, Horford for the Hawks and Noah for the visiting Chicago Bulls. Wednesday's game is the first of three regular-season games between the two, with a second game next week in Chicago.

In their seven head-to-head career meetings, Horford has the edge statistically and has also won four times. This season, the two friends who bonded at Florida over shared interests in music, the outdoors and winning and whose careers have followed similar arcs -- getting drafted high in 2007, becoming integral pieces of developing teams, signing contract extensions last fall -- could meet for the first time in the postseason.